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NSure starts project on strawberry quality

NSure and DLV have joined forces to improve the quality of both strawberry fruit and starting material in the QBerrySure project.

The project is supported by the EUROSTARS program, that is aimed at R&D performing SME’s in Europe.  The aim of the QBerrySure project is to develop strawberry quality assays using innovative molecular diagnostics, integrated with crop management systems. This will allow optimizing downstream chain decisions and production management, thus preventing losses and improving product quality and sustainability.

The total value of strawberry production in Europe is around 2.500 million €. Despite research efforts on crop management and post-harvest conditions, there are still large losses throughout the supply chain. Estimated losses at the wholesale, retail, and consumer level are 6%, 5% and 18% respectively, and 10% during strawberry runner plant production. Growers and traders are currently lacking tools to assess strawberry quality. Losses only become clear when it is too late to take measures. The tools developed in the proposed project are vital to solve these problems.

The companies Neessen and Wallings Nursery are partners in the project. They are end users of the developed technology. Neessen is a large supplier of strawberry plants in the Netherlands. Wallings is a large producer of strawberries in the UK. The project’s main participant, NSure, is an expert in assay development based on molecular diagnostics (MD). MD is a novel technology that makes use of profiling the activity of genes.  In the project DLV Plant in the Netherlands, DLV Plant Belgium and DLV Plant UK participate. These companies have a world-class reputation in the field of agro-consultancy, and also perform their own scientific research. The Greenery, a leading international fruit and vegetable supplier, and Fragaria, a joint venture of six Dutch strawberry plant propagators, support the project.   

It is expected that the project will end in 2015 with the introduction of a number of quality assays that will enable a better tuning of product quality with the demands of the market and the logistic chain. This will lead to improved product quality and reduced product loss.