Background (completed research project)
Around 20 to 40 percent of all potatoes produced in Switzerland are lost for human consumption. However, detailed information on the extent and causes of this loss is unknown. In order to reduce the potato losses, the project is studying the processes of potato production from cultivation and processing to the plate. In particular, consideration is given to the question to what extent domestic quality standards contribute to the losses.
The project will develop strategies to avoid potato loss throughout the entire processing chain, from the field to the end consumer in Switzerland. However, there is presently no data available to allow such an analysis to be made. Therefore, the participating researchers are conducting sample surveys that will reveal the loss of fresh potatoes, in processing, storage and sale. In addition, the project will study the extent to which losses are caused by quality standards, and to which consumers would accept quality standards that would result in lower losses. A range of methods such as integrated environmental and economic accounting, absorption costing and agent-based modelling techniques will be used to achieve the most comprehensive possible assessment of the sustainability of the supply chains for potato products. The participants in the project are working actively with the representatives of the various production and distribution stages, in order to find the most practicable and acceptable solutions.
With the findings from this study it will be possible to identify the causes for losses in potato production and determine measures for more sustainable food production in Switzerland. In particular, the project may precipitate an adjustment of quality standards.
POM-Q: Strategies for reducing food losses in potato-product supply chains: Implications of different quality standards