Pacific Coast Produce (PCP), a cooperative of six organic and ecoganic Cavendish banana growers in North Queensland, Australia, has launched a new research project aimed at enhancing banana quality and reducing overall waste.

PCP supplies Cavendish bananas to domestic markets and exports to high-end retailers across Asia. However, in a statement, PCP said the downgrading of consignments occurs when the fruit arrives in export markets over-ripe or chilled, representing a significant loss of revenue and reputation.

Director of PCP, Frank Sciacca, said it was impossible to predict the arrival quality of shipments, and that it represented a barrier to the growth of export markets for Australian organic bananas.

As a result, the cooperative has partnered with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), the Australian Food Cold Chain Council and the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre to address the issue through a supply chain monitoring and improvement project.

The project will use industry-leading remote monitoring technologies that record shipment handling temperatures and track consignment movement to identify how, when and where fruit quality loss occurs.

The subsequent data will be analysed so PCP can improve the total banana supply chain by maintaining cold-chain integrity and reduce fruit quality loss and waste.

The project will also develop a decision support tool that informs handling and marketing decisions based on how bananas respond to inevitable variations in shipment conditions.

DAF research horticulturist, Muhammad Sohail Mazharm said the decision support tool will use a mathematical model to predict fruit quality, waste and shelf life.

The project will deliver targeted supply chain improvement strategies and resources designed to reduce waste in Australian export and domestic banana supply chains.

A benefit-cost analysis will also assist banana growers and their supply chain partners in weighing up the potential benefits of adopting the monitoring approach.

Fight Food Waste CRC chief executive, Steven Lapidge, said it had big ambitions for the project.

'This project is aiming for a five-fold reduction in export banana losses, which is very exciting for both the companies involved and the industry,” said Lapidge.