According to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, around 14% of food produced globally is lost between production and pre-retail.
In the European Union alone, it is estimated that this loss or waste is approximately 87.6 million tonnes food. Achieving these numbers is one of the big challenges that is faced throughout the food value chain. It is an objective for which various measures are adopted, betting in turn on the promotion of the local economy and contributing to the rapprochement between producers and consumers.
Precisely, this connection is favored with the start of a European online platform where farmers and the primary sector can sell the surplus of their productions to give them a commercial outlet in their environment and avoid the waste of these food products. In addition, with this sale, the access of the most disadvantaged social groups to nutritious and healthy food will be facilitated.
This online platform is one of the main pillars on which the SISTERS project works, which aims to minimize waste and residues throughout the food chain through a holistic solution with cross-sector innovations. The objective is reduce food losses by 27% and the waste generated at each stage of the value chain in Europe. It also aims to help reduce CO2 emissions by 20%.
“The forecast is that the platform will be tested during the SISTERS project with 100 producers from five countriesSpain, France, Italy, Sweden and Belgium”, explains Carolina Peñalva, project manager at AITIIP, the center that coordinates this initiative, for the Economist “The platform will be optimized in two and a half years of work and the fastest way to reach the market will be sought so that it can be useful to European farmers.”
Initially on this platform surplus fruits and vegetables will be marketed which, for example, do not meet the standards of size or appearance that the market requires for their sale, although they are products that are completely fit for human consumption. In addition, the operation will be simple. “With this platform, each producer will have the possibility to quickly launch their own e-commerce web application, which will integrate different functionalities and will be available in different European languages.”
Less agricultural waste
The SISTERS project -which has a budget of 10.1 million euros, of which 8.3 are provided by the European Commission-, also includes other lines of action in which agriculture and agricultural residues are essential to help minimize food losses and keep them in better conditions with optimization of its transport.
As part of the project, work is in progress smart food containers which will have advanced sensors to precisely control the environment in which the product is transported or stored, taking measurements of parameters such as the level of temperature, humidity or gas composition of the environment. This system should apply to bulk and packaged foods, developing specific containers. Initially, they will be used with fruits and vegetables, as well as with fish and dairy products.
These smart food containers will allow “reduce food waste in transport between 15% and 25%since food products will be transported in better conditions and their lifespan will be extended. It is expected that its development, optimization and testing will end in 2025.
In addition to containers, bio-based packaging is also being developed to improve food quality maintenance. In this case, the development will be made from biopolymers based on polyesters and polylactic acid (PLA), which allow composting at home, also helping to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
to these materials additives extracted from agricultural residues will be added to extend the useful life of the product, in addition to using a second additive to promote the process of biodegradability of the final product. “The project partner, Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan, will optimize the extraction of valuable bioactive molecules from the food waste of primary producers such as Proexport and Riberebro, also SISTERS partners. The bioactive formulation will be added to the biobased materials.
The main the novelty of these biosed containers is that they will be compostable, at lower temperatures, which will facilitate its composting after use. The objective is for its development and technical validation, its sustainability and its food preservation suitability tests to be completed in 2025.
In addition, in addition, the SISTERS project will be the framework in which a seal of excellence for promoting good sustainable practices in stores and providing consumer information via QR code and dynamic labeling to increase sustainability awareness.
The SISTERS project began its activity last November 2021, and should end in April 2026. Its implementation is part of the new objectives of the European Commission’s Green Deal, whose lines of action have been focused this year on aid in the fight against climate change. climate change and environmental degradation by 2050.
In addition to AITIIP, which provides coordination, the SISTERS consortium is made up of BM Services (France), Riberebro Integral SA (Spain), Murcia Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers Organizations (Spain), Munster Technological University (Ireland), Rebus Labs AG (Switzerland), Carbiolice (France), Bio-mi (Croatia), Kungliga Tekniska Hoegskolan (Sweden), ITC Packaging (Spain), Natureplast SAS (France), Eroski (Spain), Fondazione Edmund Mach (Italy), Laboratori Archa SRL (Italy), Enco SRL (Italy), Eurizon (Spain), Safe Food Advocacy Europe (Belgium) and Gaia Biomaterials (Sweden).