We are here to support our fast-growing food science and agri-tech sector, including growers, specialist cultivators, distributors, processors, storage facilities and retailers. Instrumental in unlocking innovation and researching the optimum conditions, impact and treatment of fresh produce for sustainability, retention of quality, extended life and commercial potential.
Central to our nutrition, today, the ability to extend the availability and seasons of perishable goods, such as fruit and vegetables, plays a key role and is an increasing challenge to food producers, processors and retailers.
“… 20% uplift in grocery sales in April, with people shopping once a week rather than the three or four trips per week before… sales of frozen ready meals have declined by 15%….”
Maximising shelf life, reducing waste and delivering increased profitability for fresh produce
Based at Cranfield University, our unique Postharvest Cold Storage Facility offers you an effective way to, not only extend the shelf-life of your fresh produce, but also discover more about pre-harvest agronomy’s impact on long-term fruit and vegetable storage.
“Shoppers staying closer to home and avoiding queues at large supermarkets.”
Developed to explore, understand and investigate the impact of different storage atmospheres and relative humidity, our Postharvest Storage Facility offers:
- Three controlled temperature rooms housing controlled atmosphere storage test areas, allowing us to achieve varying concentrations of CO2, N2, air and ethylene during fresh produce storage.
- Lab pods enabling multiple trials to be carried out in the individual cold stores, enabling simultaneous trials on several varieties undergoing differing storage conditions.
- The ability for real time respiration and ethylene to be measured simultaneously. External sensor technology measures the real time respiration rate and ethylene production of fresh produce within the controlled atmosphere to increase our understanding of postharvest crop physiological response.
- A high precision system for controlling storage atmospheres and measuring respiration.
Observation and experiment – empirical data modelling
The team at Cranfield have also developed modelling software to evaluate and present verifiable data, demonstrating the versatility of different applications across a wide range of perishable goods, including the long–term storage and shelf-life of potatoes and onions to reduce sprouting and stabilise fry colour.
- Long–term fruit and vegetable storage
- Shelf–life studies
- Controlled atmosphere studies
- Physiological response to temperature/relative humidity/storage atmosphere
- Manipulation of store environments to improve the quality of fresh produce coming out of long-term storage.
Extending the availability and flavour of UK apples using innovative photonics at Agri-EPI Centre Postharvest Storage Facilities
A total of 605,000 tonnes of tree grown fruit, or ‘top fruit’ is sold in the UK every year and the UK apple industry is worth around £190M. With growing yields, an increasingly sophisticated storage capability is needed to fulfil retailers demands to extend the availability of our native apples, reduce imports and support sustainable intensification of UK apple growing.
Recent research undertaken by Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood, Cranfield University, at Agri-EPI Centre’s innovative Postharvest Storage Facility has delivered a way not only to improve apple storage times, but also maintain apple quality and improve flavour during storage without the need for additional ethylene inhibitor treatment, effectively delivering substantial savings for large apple suppliers.
Grant funding for new ideas: Horticultural crop quality and food loss network
Cranfield University, in partnership with the University of Reading, have launched the Horticultural Crop Quality and Food Loss Network.
The new Network will form a focal point for industrial and academic practitioners to collaborate and address the challenges of food losses and waste in horticultural systems. A catalyst for new ideas and provider of seed-corn funding, the Network will support the development of more sustainable industry-academia collaborations that aim to use bioscience research to improve the quality of horticultural produce and reduce food losses and waste across the food chain.