EUFRUIT: dedicated platform for European Union fresh produce research launches
The initiative unites a consortium of 21 research partners from 12 different countries across the EU

EUFRUIT: dedicated platform for European Union fresh produce research launches

Gill McShane
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EUFRUIT, a multi-layered £1.4m Europe-backed and funded project to unleash, stimulate and apply the region’s research potential to exploit new opportunities in the fresh produce industry, officially launched on March 3-4, 2016 at its first meeting in Brussels, Belgium

The initiative forms part of Horizon 2020 – the biggest European Union research and innovation programme – and is a project aiming at facilitating access to knowledge and disseminating existing research and innovation potential in the European fresh produce sector.

Its goal is to stimulate competitiveness, sustainability, quality and safety of fruits and vegetables for the benefit of the supply chain and ultimately consumers.

Within that framework, EUFRUIT is setting up a unique thematic European Fruit Network where research institutes and the European representative organisations from the fresh fruit sector are joining forces.

Altogether, EUFRUIT unites a consortium of 21 partners from 12 different countries. See the list of members at the end of this article. The consortium will focus its activities on four crucial areas to drive the competitiveness and innovation potential of the European fruit sector:

  1. New cultivar development

  2. Minimising residues on fruit and in the environment

  3. Optimising storage and fruit quality

  4. Enhancing sustainable production systems

As such, EUFRUIT will act as a knowledge platform, while providing unique networking opportunities for academics and researchers partners, fruit business operators as well as decision makers.

EUFRUIT will be a dedicated platform to secure existing research is fully exploited by the fruit sector, maximising the research investment into the effective exchange of best practices and converting knowledge into innovative agriculture practices across Europe.

The project is a result of the efforts of AREFLH (the European association of the regions producing fruit, vegetables and horticulture products) and Freshfel Europe (the European fruit and vegetable association) in collaboration with EUFRIN to bring together the fruit sector and their research institutes.

Both AREFLH and Freshfel Europe will be actively involved in the dissemination of the project achievements to the sector. The websites of EUFRIN, AREFLH and Freshfel Europe will provide regular update on the project’s developments.

EUFRUIT is coordinated by Michelle Williams, Head of the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University in Denmark and current chair of the Board of EUFRIN – an informal network of university departments and research institutes for temperate fruit crops.

“I am very pleased that the project managed to gather so many different and experienced partners and successfully received the support of the European Commission,” commented Williams after the meeting.

“EUFRUIT will fill an important gap by enhancing research cooperation across Europe and will foster exchange of knowledge for the benefit of the fruit sector. In the project we are committed to build an efficient instrument to enhance the competitiveness of a very important segment of the agricultural economy of the European Union”.

With a total budget of €1.8 million (£1.4m), the network will establish in the upcoming three years a systematic approach for knowledge gathering and dissemination. This will be facilitated by harmonising methodologies for the scanning and synthesis of knowledge, and will foster the exchange of best practises and technologies reviewed by international experts in the four priorities areas of the thematic network. It will importantly secure a direct path for new knowledge and reduce the likelihood of repetition of research at a national level.

Both Jacques Dasque (Secretary General of AREFLH) and Philippe Binard (General Delegate of Freshfel Europe) welcomed the launch of the project. “EUFRUIT is promising to be an important tool for the fruit sector with ready access to up-to-date information on research to stimulate competitiveness, sustainability, quality and safety of fruit for the benefit of the supply chain and ultimately the consumers,” the duo stated.

Since January 2014, a Task Force with EUFRIN, AREFLH and Freshfel Europe has been set up, leading to the release in March 2015 of a Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) to better position fruit and vegetables in the European Union research and innovation priorities within the Horizon 2020 initiative.

Priorities set by the SIRA were upheld by the European annual work plan of the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 and greatly facilitated the positioning of EUFRUIT as a priority project.

EUFRUIT partners

  • UNIVERSITATEA DE STIINTE AGRONOMICE SI MEDICINA VETERINARA DIN BUCURESTI (ROMANIA)

  • UNIVERSITAET HOHENHEIM (GERMANY)

  • ELBE-OBST ERZEUGERORGANIZATION R.V. (GERMANY)

  • AREFLH – ASSEMBLEE DES REGIONS EUROPEENNES FRUITIERES LEGUMIERES ET HORTICOLES (EUROPEAN UNION)

  • SORTENERNEUERUNGSKONSORTIUM SUEDTIROL (ITALY)

  • CENTRO DI SPERIMENTAZIONE AGRARIA E FORESTALE LAIMBURG AZIENDA (ITALY)

  • LIETUVOS AGRARINIŲ IR MIŠKŲ MOKSLŲ CENTRAS (LITHUANIA)

  • AARHUS UNIVERSITY (DENMARK)

  • FRESHFEL EUROPE – EUROPEAN FRESH PRODUCE ASSOCIATION (EUROPEAN UNION)

  • PROEFCENTRUM FRUITTEELT VZW (BELGIUM)

  • INSTITUT DE RECERCA I TECNOLOGIA AGROALIMENTARIES (SPAIN)

  • FRUITCONSULT BV (THE NETHERLANDS)

  • STICHTING DIENST LANDBOUWKUNDIG ONDERZOEK (THE NETHERLANDS)

  • CENTRE TECHNIQUE INTERPROFESSIONNEL DES FRUITS ET LEGUMES (FRANCE)

  • NEMZETI AGRARKUTATASI ES INNOVACIOSKOZPONT (HUNGARY)

  • EAST MALLING RESEARCH (UNITED KINGDOM)

  • LANDWIRTSCHAFTSKAMMER NIEDERSACHSEN (GERMANY)

  • ALMA MATER STUDIORUM – UNIVERSITA DI BOLOGNA (ITALY)

  • INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE (FRANCE)

  • UNIVERSITY OF GREENWICH (UNITED KINGDOM)

  • EIDGENOESSISCHES DEPARTEMENT FUER WIRTSCHAFT, BILDUNG UND FORSCHUNG (SWITZERLAND)

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