Postharvest Systems Management B - (15 Credits)

Reducing food loss and waste today is an urgent and pressing challenge with the UN Secretary General calling it “and ethical outrage”. Future food demands and food security will require intensified sustainable production but also necessitate a reduction of this food loss and waste across the value chain. The FAO estimates that 14% of global production is lost each year after harvest before reaching the market through postharvest loss and waste. This is estimated to equate to approximately 38% of total energy in the global food system. The maintenance and modification of crop quality after harvest is particularly important to fresh produce which is notoriously perishable and susceptible to loss. This module examines the potential issues and solutions to reducing loss and waste across the supply chain, including at the retail and consumer level through to redistribution. Such loss will be examined in the context of consumer behaviour and sustainable and environmental pressures. Production methods and postharvest biology in relation to short and long supply chains, will be used to explore the key contributory factors that affect quality. The module will allow students to become familiar with key analytical techniques used to assess quality attributes and will examine current and future techniques and technologies that have the potential to mitigate postharvest loss and deterioration. This will draw on an understanding of quality in relation to postharvest physiology and shelf life. The student will be encouraged to focus on crop(s) or technologies of their choice and develop their own analytical approach to solving a simulated or real-life postharvest problem. An understanding of the causes of loss from farm, retail, food service through to that at the household level will be needed in relation to different food systems. Factors such as handling, transport and storage, cold chain capacity and packaging will be linked to consumer trends and knowledge in the overarching aim of environmental sustainability and pressures on land and resources. Students will be encouraged to explore business models to reduce postharvest loss, including cost barriers, in the context of waste reduction, short and long value chains drawing on examples from importers, quality and produce managers. Current innovations to improve postharvest quality and/or nutritional value will be examined. Cross- modular thinking will be encouraged to consolidate systems thinking competency to assess problems and drivers of constructive change.