SmartFresh boost in Europe

The SmartFresh system is going from strength to strength, recording a 62 per cent rise in European sales last year and continuing its expansion into new areas and products, according to owners Agrofresh.

“[Apples] is where we started and what drove our business,” Peter Vriends, pictured, told FPJ. “Now that’s established we’re moving into other crops, such as avocados - where we have several years of experience - plums and kiwifruit.”

Moving forward, the company is hoping its SmartFresh system could offer an environment-friendly solution to exporting African flowers to Europe. “A lot of flowers that are meant for the European market, the UK market, are grown in Africa nowadays,” said Vriends. “Mostly they are flown in by airfreight to Europe and we’ve been testing our product now, very successfully, to transfer our airfreight to sea freight.”

Agrofresh is also undertaking some research trials with tulips in the Netherlands, but work is still needed to determine the best technical recommendation for specific flowers varieties, according to Vriends. However, African flowers using the SmartFresh system could be available in the UK within two years, he told FPJ. “That’s really us moving forward and one of the things we’re working on to give us future growth.”

Aside from exporting flowers, SmartFresh can also play and important role in curbing food miles clocked up by domestic produce, Vriends claimed: “SmartFresh can mean not only getting a better quality fruit, but it can also keep certain varieties a little bit longer, so there’s actually fewer imports because they can use their own product, to create a little bit longer season. In Switzerland there’s a strong preference for local fruit, and they have some varieties that are very local because they don’t store very well, so they don’t make it commercially to bigger countries, but the Swiss like the specific taste.

"And with SmartFresh I think we might have saved a few varieties that would otherwise have disappeared because they were able to store them for a few months and it was good enough to keep them on the market.”