Quality on the Edge: Quality from a Manufacturing Perspective 


E. Wijs1 and W.B.C. de Heij2


2 ATO b.v., NL, wouter.deheij@wur.nl


Convenience  is  booming  business.  Some  thirty  years  ago,  first  attempts  in
providing easy to handle and ready-to-eat foods to consumers were reported. During the
last  decade  developments  have  been  fast  and  major  progress  has  been  made  in
maintaining quality and safety of the fresh cut produce. And in that last remark not only
the progress is indicated, but the major problems as well: what is quality, what is safe and
what is fresh?

The  chain  concept  and  its  benefits  are  built  upon  trust  in  predecessors  and successors in that chain. Entire food supply chains and networks are built on that concept. For the fresh cut produce that is not different. Trust is fine, but… commercial companies are no fools. They need some proof of trustworthiness, some proof of quality, some proof of safety, some proof of freshness. So, even in the concept of chains and networks, some product  properties  have  to  be  measured and some indication of  quality,  safety and freshness has to be provided.

About 60 companies are producing fresh cut, washed and packed vegetables in the
Netherlands, most companies produces there products for local hospitals, restaurants,
catering services and food services. Based on annual turn over, in Holland the top 6
products are mainly prepared for the supermarkets (“retails”). Sales of fresh cut produce
in the Netherlands have increased from the early nineties from €100 million to about €300
million nowadays.   Roughly 80% of these sales are realised in the retail sector.

In this paper, an overview will be presented of aspects important to commercial application of fresh cut horticultural and agricultural produce, how to acquire the proper information, and how (and to what extent) to trust your partner. An integrated view on fruit and vegetable quality, applicable throughout the chain will certainly make life and business easier.