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Fresh Products: an essential theme for short food supply chains

Inspirational field trip among good practices in Belgium and the Netherlands

The Short Supply Chain Knowledge and Innovation Network, SKIN, after focusing on collecting good practices around Europe (SKIN GPS repository) is now starting to deepen the core themes of short food supply chain to support stakeholders. The first Innovation Challenge Workshop (ICW) focused on the topic of fresh products during a one-day event that took place on the 24th of April 2018 (including visits in both Belgium and the Netherlands). The ICW was organised as a one-day field trip aimed at discovering innovative approaches and practices used by Belgian and Dutch farmers involved in fresh products for short food chains, with a specific focus on freshness. The visit concluded with a networking dinner, animated by a trend watcher discussing the latest trends in the food world. Besides the project innovators, local stakeholders and actors were also invited to the tour. They shared their knowledge and discovered inspirational ideas and practices within the short food chain sector as they engaged closely with SKIN. Collaborative distribution systems, ‘Fresh from the Farm’ labels, experimental kitchens, grocery boxes and innovative business management are some of the examples from the five farms visited. Participants got the chance to meet the farm owners, to interact with them, and to listen to their stories and experiences. In Oud-Turnhout, they met with Appelen Roes, a farm with 25 hectares (ha) of fruit (apples, pears and cherries) and in-house production of apple juices and a rich variety of mixed juices. To ensure a close connection with their customers, they have developed three local farm shops and an online sales channel. Furthermore, they banded together with 10 other local producers and formed a joint local distribution strategy in which they supply their products to local restaurants, bars, accommodation providers and retailers. The team also met with Franken Agro, a farming business that inspires good practices and specialises in the production of vegetables, potatoes and turf. They cultivate potatoes, vegetables and turf at their main site and a further 450 ha of potatoes in Wallonia. The freshness of their products is guaranteed by the one-day processing time needed to produce and cut the vegetables and by the absence of any form of additives or preservatives. They are the largest home-grown French fries producer in Belgium. As they headed to Goirle, the agri-food community met with De Walhoeve, a farm shop with home-reared beef and products from fellow farmers and market gardeners. The owner recently built a new stable where he keeps 150 bulls and cultivated 20 ha of land made up of the corn and the grass needed to feed their bulls. De Laarhoeve provided another interesting practice in which all values related to short food supply chains are blended together with a sense of social responsibility towards people with mental disabilities or behavioural problems. Through their own brand, they produce various types of jam, dessert toppings, apple sauces, poached pears, red cabbage, chutneys, cut flowers and pasta sauces, and distribute them to approximately 30 supermarkets. This is combined with providing educational social care for their volunteer staff. Read more here:


Belgium, Netherlands