The vegetable sector is key in the development of the Mediterranean region, providing employment and economic-social benefits to the region. However, in terms of sustainability, the vegetable supply chain is linked to the largest amount of food loss and food waste. Studies reports that each additional day of accessible shelf-life can reduce food waste by 5%. Furthermore, vegetables pose the highest microbial risk since they are consumed fresh or minimally processed, without a full effective lethal treatment that can guarantee the complete removal of pathogenic microorganisms. The proposal aims to develop an integrated, innovative, and eco-friendly approach to assess optimal shelf-life and minimize food losses of strawberries and tomatoes produced in the Mediterranean region, by combining bio-preservation technologies, food modelling and Food Cloud tools. The technological solutions will be imbued by a sustainable and circular view, making use and valorising Mediterranean agri-food residues to develop natural preservation systems (i.e. functionalized lignocellulose nanofibres, bio-active compounds and bio-protective cultures) that will be applied to extend shelf-life and provide safer and fresher products to consumers. Food Cloud tools will be developed to monitor shelf-life dynamics in real time and automatic manner, which will be a breakthrough in the vegetable sector, creating a knowledge base as first step to introduce a dynamic shelf-life date in the food chain management systems. The system built on IoT will bridge the gap between modelling research and innovative and food stakeholders from food suppliers to retailer making them accessible to a broader community, including consumers. The scientific results will be shared to a large group of producers and retailers via participant networks. In the last quarter of the project a field validation of the technologies will be performed including all project partners and third parties interested in the project.
Objective 1. To obtain and assess lignocellulose nanofibres (LCNF) and microorganisms from agri-food residues, as a sustainable and circular approach, for application in active packaging and preservation of vegetable products. Objective 2. To extend shelf-life of fresh tomatoes and strawberries by applying bio-protective cultures and bio-active compounds, in combination with LCNF nanocomposite, using suitable methods such as edible coating and nanocomposites (e.g. package pads and films). Objective 3. Generate and validate mathematical models to predict microbial dynamics and sensory dynamics in the targeted produces under real storage conditions considering the effect of the natural preservative techniques obtained from Objective 2. Objective 4. To develop a Cloud Computing based system for food transparency and dynamic shelf life prediction. The system will integrate the mathematical models constructed in Objective 3. A give-and-take approach will be used to generate a win-win situation, each step of the supply chain shares quality and safety relevant data and receives useful business data, such as current status of the product or cool chain performance. Objective 5. To optimize logistics and retail to reduce food waste using smart contracts. An automated expert system and food chain simulator will be connected to the Food Cloud system, in Objective 4, able to return warnings and handling advices to the party in charge of the respective food cargo to stop the current logistic planning as it is not generating value and instead advises an alternative route to minimize economic and food loss. Objective 6. To test the full solution simulating real world conditions based on associated food stakeholders from farm to fork, including testing of consumer acceptance.
The proposal aims to develop an integrated, innovative, and eco-friendly approach to assess optimal shelf-life and minimize food losses of strawberries and tomatoes produced in the Mediterranean region, by combining food bio-preservation technologies, food modelling, and Food Cloud tools. The technological solutions will be imbued by a sustainable and circular view, making use and valorising Mediterranean agri-food resources to develop natural preservative, that will be applied so as to extend food shelf-life and provide safer and fresher products to consumers. The limitation in resources of Mediterranean food enterprises, typically small or medium size, will be overcome through the application of Information Technologies (IT) and Predictive modelling based on Food Cloud Computing enabling food traceability and control at distance in automatic manner. The scientific results will be shared to a large group of producers and retailers via participant networks. The project is active in qualitative research and also aims at bringing an assessment of the quantitative performance as a basis for the future commercial exploitation of the innovation results. In the last quarter, the technologies will be performed under simulated and real food environments including all project partners and third parties interested in the project.
1) The valorisation of agri-food residues from the harvest-to-fork chain of tomato and strawberry by generating new biomaterial and biocompounds for application in active packaging systems. This technology is expected to create new business activities (niches) with a significant economic impact, bringing both environmental and economic benefits to the vegetable SME. 2) Improved food chain sustainability of tomato and strawberry products using the concept of dynamic shelf-life developed in BIOFRESHCLOUD. This innovative tool is expected to impact agri-food process providing a new way of managing shelf-life of fruits and vegetable that do not have a Best-by date established by considering remaining shelf-life in the format of the Best-by date or an internal Sell-by date for goods. 3) Moving the Mediterranean food business to more efficient local and transnational logistics to minimize food loss and waste based on the use of Food Cloud technologies. 4) Extending tomato and strawberry shelf-life, by improving sensory and microbial stability, based on eco-friendly and natural preservation technologies. 5) Minimizing the water and carbon footprint of the tomato and strawberry distribution chains.
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