I recently had cause to take a look through some of the reports for loss assessment surveys we’ve carried out over the last few years for some of our clients in the fresh produce industry.  Being struck by the range of fresh produce our surveyors have been asked to inspect, I ended up going a little further and discovered a few interesting facts not only about our business, but about the nature of the trade, distribution and storage of perishable products. 

This is taken from a random and anonymous selection of 50 inspection reports:

Take a look at a recent project completed to monitor the quality of mangoes arriving in the UK from an African grower, destined for markets around the UK and Europe.

This morning we produced our new Monthly Product Report, based on the data generated by our fortnightly benchmarking inspections.  For those who have not come across this before now, we purchase a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables from a selection of the biggest retailers in the UK, and carry out quality inspections to assess the products for all of the most common quality criteria to determine what the level of quality is once produce reaches consumers. 

What did June reveal?

Our report for weeks 24 and 26 had fairly consistent scores of 92.67% and 91.63% respectively.  There was a total of 37 downgrades found across the two inspections.

What did we find during March?

Our report for March is now live and is once again, very interesting.  A national retail average score of 91.91%, where 39 items of fresh produce were downgraded in total across our 2 inspections.

An analysis of food quality benchmarking

We've just concluded the first year of fresh produce quality benchmarking, so it seems a good time to take a look at the data to see what it tells us about the last year in fresh produce. Should you be unaware of the process, we've been purchasing around 50 items of fresh produce from 5 different retailers every fortnight for the past 12 months. 

Our hygiene audits can sometimes make for tough reading, as they do not necessarily pull punches, and even though they are only being used internally by the owners of a food outlet, or those responsible for the food safety and hygiene of the site, they are not much use if we don't say what needs to be said in the audit report.

Banana Quality

I am sure this is simply coincidence, but what has become clear from those conversations is that many people at different stages of the distribution chain find this most popular of fruit difficult to manage, difficult to distribute and store, and in the case of my family difficult to buy.  Why is this?  Well, there are a few issues when it comes to the banana supply chain which can cause difficulty.

Food Storage and Distribution

Have been delivering training to groups involved in the movement of food of all sorts, including fresh produce as a new venture, and the development of the materials has given a reason to think about the storage and distribution of food, and how it affects quality, particularly of fresh produce.

Getting the Right Balance With Food Quality

Fresh produce, I am often told, is a living product.  It's not nuts and bolts.  And every person who has told me this is absolutely correct.  You have to account for the natural variables in fresh fruit and vegetables, and you have to accept that as a perishable product it is deteriorating in quality every hour that it is in our or your care.