Researchers join forces to tackle food scarcity

20 December 2012

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20 December 2012 | Adam Leach

The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) and East Malling Research (EMR) are to pool their resources and research solutions for food security and scarcity.

The Produce Quality Centre was launched this week by the Duke of Kent and will develop ideas to optimise both pre- and post-harvest factors and also to improve the storage and quality of fresh produce as it makes its way through the supply chain. EMR will focus on temperate crops while the NRI, which is part of the University of Greenwich, will focus on tropical crops.

Professor Peter Gregory, chief executive at EMR, said: “At a time when food security is gaining an ever higher position on the political agenda it is a great step forward that these teams can join their considerable forces on common issues. By focusing the widest range of horticultural expertise and post-harvest research facilities assembled in the UK, we can improve quality and reduce losses.”

A key aspect of the collaboration will be that both organisations will be able to make use of the Jim Mount Building, a controlled atmosphere research storage facility. Through the research produced, the partnership aims to increase consumer choice, improve energy and transport efficiency, improve quality and nutrition, reduce waste and extend availability.

A report published yesterday by Prestige Purchasing said food prices will increase by 4.5 per cent in 2013, having risen 3.3 per cent this year. David Read, CEO of Prestige Purchasing, recommended three courses of action for buyers to deal with food price inflation; optimising distribution; benchmarking and insight; and source optimisation.

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