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Quality

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Introduction

Quality is without doubts an important feature when considering fresh fruit and vegetables! But approaching quality is not a simple task given the heterogeneity of the products itself.

Fresh fruit and vegetables come from nature and are not the result of an industrial process. Each fruit or vegetable is therefore unique and influenced by the external environment. The external quality of the product could vary as a result of local weather and climatic conditions during its growing process, with weather conditions that could be adverse or favourable for the fruit or vegetable. Once picked, quality could also be influenced by the sorting and packing process, by transport or by storing conditions. Market conditions could imply that the product has to be sold faster when the demand is pressing or might need to be stored in cold store if the demand is not matching the offer or the product availability needs to be secured during a certain period. To mitigate all these aspects, the role and expertise of growers, traders and distributors as well as the logistics providers in the fresh produce chain is of a crucial nature.

The many different expectations and/or perceptions of consumers add to the complexity and demonstrate the wide scope of the quality concept. It is not only including the external appearance of fresh fruit and vegetables but also other aspects relating to food safety such as pesticide residues, contaminants, food borne illnesses, … but also organoleptic criteria, making sure that the products are ready to eat and taste good. All these criteria are the recipe for consumers to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables and to repeat the experience.

This section will guide you to some of these quality aspects and the response given by the sector to secure that consumers’ experience will be great and allow enjoying at any moments the delights of fresh produce consumption. More detailed information, including references to legislation, is available from Freshfel’s Fresh Quality Guide (www.freshquality.org). Finally, one has also to remember that the quality of fruit and vegetables also includes the nutritional goodness of the product, an important and complex issue in itself which is therefore reviewed in a specific and dedicated section on this website. Similarly environmental sustainability issues (carbon footprint, water footprint, etc.) are covered in a dedicated section.

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