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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FRESH-DEMO (Waste reduction and quality improvement of fruits and vegetables via an innovative and energy-efficient humidification/disinfection technology)

FRESH-DEMO Report Summary

Project ID: 634699
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FRESH-DEMO (Waste reduction and quality improvement of fruits and vegetables via an innovative and energy-efficient humidification/disinfection technology)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-02-29

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Around 160 million tons of fruits and vegetables are harvested and distributed throughout Europe every year. The long distribution pathways and the lack of enough technologies for appropriate transport and storage could lead to a certain amount of food wasted as well as to products with inferior quality arriving at the consumer.
Innovative humidification/disinfection technology enhancing the shelf life and the hygienic properties of fruit and vegetables could help normally this situation. The project will evaluate the benefits of a cool, humid, and germ-free climate by means of ultrasonic humidification as well as natural sanitizers to preserve and enhance the quality and freshness of fruit and vegetables along the entire post-harvest supply chain.
The market potential of this technology will be demonstrated on the research through different real case studies. The analysis of the achieved results in terms of ecological, technological and economic benefits as well as in-depths market research will provide the basis for an extensive training, promotion, and dissemination program aimed at multipliers and potential clients, thus achieving a successful market introduction.
General Objectives:
Introducing the FRESH-DEMO system as an eco-efficient product into the logistics of the European food sector
Increased handling efficiency during the storage, transport and sales of fruit and vegetables
Disseminate and promote knowledge on how the system affects the ecologic and economic sustainability of vegetable and fruit distribution in the food industry
Market introduction of the system in the vegetable and fruit sector in Greece, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands and successively in the complete EU-28
Use cost saving potentials and increase the competiveness of the European fruit and vegetable sector (mainly SMEs)
Specific objectives:
Real-scale demonstrations of the FRESH-DEMO technology along a continuous food supply chain will be executed in order to achieve the following specific objectives:
1. To increase the freshness and the hygienic properties of fruits and vegetables by providing a continuous cool and humid environment along the supply chain (no unbroken cold chain)
2. To reduce avoidable bio-waste (damaged/decayed vegetable and fruits) generated due to insufficient storage and transport conditions by 35%
3. To enhance the shelf life of fruit and vegetables by 30%
4. To reduce necessary packaging material by 75%
5. To reduce energy consumption compared to conventional cooling systems by 70%
6. Achieve a cost-saving potential (due to reduced waste, lower energy costs, higher sales, etc.) of ca. 20% in the fruit and vegetable distribution chain

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

FRESH-DEMO project started in March 1st 2015. Six of the eight work packages (WP) of the work programme have been running within the first reporting period which finalized in February 29th 2016. WP 1 and 2 have been finalized and WP 3, 6, 7 and 8 are still running. A brief description of the work performed is provided below:
Within WP 1 the specific end-user requirements were characterized, and defined the requirements of target group regarding: fruit and vegetable storage; product quality; resource efficiency and legal and administrative needs. Finally it was established the technical requirements for the case study sites and defined procedures for the case study implementation
In WP 2 the best mixtures of natural biocides (consisting of botanical extracts and organic acids) was identified for a variety of fruit and vegetable groups as well as the ultrasonic humidification unit was adapted and up-scaled for the application of these sanitizers.
During the WP 3 all key components of the FRESH-DEMO prototypes (excluding the ultrasonic humidification unit developed in WP 2) were up-scaled and developed based on the technical requirements collected during WP 1.Furthermore, all the components were assembled for the different prototypes according the established CAD drawings and CFD simulations, and it was implemented functional tests of the components and the entire systems, as well as a laboratory test programme.
The WP 6 aims to exploit and commercialize the project results of FRESH-DEMO and to provide training to potential clients, catalysts for dissemination, or installation companies. A draft of the Exploitation plan and marketing concept has been developed, which will be very useful to incorporate all the learned lessons of the case studies, hence developing an effective marketing introduction of the FRESH-DEMO system. In parallel, it has been organizing the training material for the workshops which will take place during the second period, once all the case studies will be finished. Furthermore, the consortium has worked in the permissions and authorisations needed for the commercialization of the FRESH-DEMO technology
The objective of WP 7 is to ensure a proper dissemination of projects results to stakeholders in the food industry by various activities (e.g. project website and flyers have been developed, FRESH-DEMO was presented during the trade fairs Fruitlogistica 2016-Berlin and Fruit attraction 2015-Madrid, etc.) in order to facilitate commercialization and exploitation of FRESH-DEMO. All dissemination activities have been monitored closely before their implementation by the IP committee in order to make sure that no dissemination activities counteract any steps necessary to protect the knowledge.
Finally, WP 8 comprises all project management activities: monitoring the compliance of all partners with their obligations, administering the EC financial contribution and distributing it in accordance with the consortium and grant agreements, efficient and correct communication and reporting with the EC, knowledge and IPR management, etc.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Different technologies exist in order to increase the humidity within enclosed spaces, i.e. vaporizers (i.e. steam humidifiers), or atomizers. Vaporizers heat or boil water, releasing steam and moisture into the air. The humidification rate is by far better than with evaporators - a maximum humidity level of about 90 % can be achieved (goal for FRESH-DEMO: around 95%). Due to the heat these humidifiers are relatively germ-free as well. However, boiling water requires a significant amount of energy.
Currently available atomizers are typically characterized by a low humidification rate, however, ultrasonic atomization, the core technology in FRESH-DEMO has a great potential. Energy consumption is approx. 95% lower compared to vaporizers and around 50% less water is necessary. Verschoor and Otma (2010) analysed this technology applied in vegetable display shelves in supermarkets and found the main effect of this application is on limiting weight loss, which again is related to quality aspects such as better firmness and crispness, less wrinkling and less dehydration. The greater the moisture loss, the greater the risk of problems with wilting/wrinkling and, as the product’s appearance is an important sales argument customer satisfaction will be increased. Important to mention is that the aerosol inhibits moisture loss without causing the products to get wet due to the small size of the water droplets.
The FRESH-DEMO work-plan is completely oriented towards achieving the following impacts:
Scale-up, demonstrate, and test affordable humidification/disinfection systems in the entire post-harvest supply chain of fruits/vegetables, achieving substantial waste reduction and process optimization;
Verify the performance and long term viability of the simple handling, operating and maintenance of the FRESH-DEMO technology in real cases from an integrated point of view considering technical, economical, operational, environmental, social and health aspects;
Bring forward the stage of development to reach the last stage before entering the production and the market through tests and validation of the existing results via real-case demonstrations, thus fostering the market-uptake for the industrial partners (in particular the SMEs) in the close future;
Reduce substantially food waste as well as energy and water consumption in the European fruit and vegetable industry while simultaneously ensuring sustainable economic growth;
Improve the competitiveness of European businesses (especially SMEs) active in fruit and vegetable production, logistics, and retail by securing high quality products with more cost efficiency.

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