According to the World Health Organization (WHO), eating plenty of F&V (fruit and vegetables) is one of the 5-key to a healthy diet. However, regional and local products are still characterized by a very short shelf life due to the intrinsic natural properties of the F&V. Moreover, current available chemical sanitisers, besides being perceived negatively by consumers, are not considered as a solution since they are not efficient for microbial reduction and are harmful to human health and the environment. The need for a more effective and sustainable post-harvesting and processing techniques to improve safety and retain nutritional and sensory properties of F&V with prolonged shelf life is urgent especially for both SME’s (small and medium enterprises) and consumers.
Therefore, SHEALTHY proposal aims to assess and develop an optimal combination of non-thermal sanitization, preservation and stabilization methods to improve the safety while preserving the nutritional and organoleptic quality and prolonging the shelf-life of fresh and minimally processed F&V products.
By combining and modulating non-thermal technologies with minimally processing operations, we will respond to consumers’ demand for fresh, healthy, convenient, sustainable and locally produced and additive-free food which is safe and nutritious.
In SHEALTHY, the combined and optimised mild technologies will be demonstrated and validated in two business cases:
- Business case 1: Minimally processed fruit and vegetables.
- Business case 2: Fruit and vegetable-based juices & smoothies.
In SHEALTHY, sustainable and flexible processing methods will be transferred and adapted to the need of local F&V micro and SMEs, interconnecting primary producers through novel cooperative business models and new logistics systems, to enhance the traceability and authenticity of raw materials along the F&V value chain. Innovative SME-led collaborative business models will be designed and implemented in pilot trials SMEs resulting in new local/regional food system where farmers, food processing micro & SME, logistics and consumers are engaged and interconnected.