Har­ness­ing Tech­ni­cal and Com­mer­cial Syn­er­gies for Ad­vanc­ing the Ex­per­tise of Two

The Orchardist - - News -

AgroFresh and Plant & Food Re­search two years ago es­tab­lished a for­mal Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and Busi­ness Co-op­er­a­tion Agree­ment as a way of har­ness­ing the re­sources of both global or­gan­i­sa­tions to achieve the best tech­ni­cal and com­mer­cial out­come for grow­ers, stor­age room own­ers and mar­keters. It’s a part­ner­ship that com­bines this sci­ence ex­per­tise with the tech­ni­cal know-how of AgroFresh to de­velop new un­der­stand­ing of how fruit be­haves in stor­age both with and with­out SmartFresh ™ as well as in the or­chard with Harvista ™ . Nick San­ders, AgroFresh Com­mer­cial Re­gional Man­ager, ANZ, says the work­ing re­la­tion­ship is about the tran­si­tion of re­search to a live com­mer­cial en­vi­ron­ment. “Fun­da­men­tal to this busi­ness agree­ment is tap­ping into the global ca­pa­bil­i­ties of both Plant & Food Re­search and AgroFresh which now has close to 20 years com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence in post-har­vest with its pro­pri­etary 1-MCP so­lu­tions across fruit, veg­eta­bles and flori­cul­ture.” Dr Han­nah James has been man­ag­ing AgroFresh’s on­go­ing re­search and de­vel­op­ment projects in the re­gion for al­most three years based out­side of Mel­bourne. Prior to that she was in Wash­ing­ton State with AgroFresh for five years. Her work on posthar­vest re­search projects in­volved de­vel­op­ing spe­cial rec­om­men­da­tions for us­ing SmartFresh tech­nol­ogy with new va­ri­eties and guid­ing post-har­vest de­ci­sions given sea­sonal vari­a­tions are part of the mix. Re­lo­cat­ing back to the re­gion has al­lowed Han­nah to bring with her the in­ter­na­tional hands on ex­pe­ri­ence as well as her ex­ten­sive net­work of con­tacts to help jump start lo­cal projects to achieve to com­mer­cial out­comes quickly.

Re­search and ex­ten­sion that is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

A sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward this year has been Plant & Food Re­search’s ap­point­ment of a ded­i­cated sci­en­tist avail­able to work with AgroFresh and its New Zealand cus­tomers. This sci­en­tist is Dr Ni­co­lette Nie­mann who, for go­ing on 12 months, has been part of Plant & Food’s posthar­vest team based in Have­lock North, headed by Dr Ja­son John­ston. She took up her po­si­tion af­ter al­most 13 years at the Univer­sity of Johannesburg. Ni­co­lette works closely with Han­nah in har­ness­ing tech­ni­cal and com­mer­cial syn­er­gies of each or­gan­i­sa­tion. Their key goal is pre­sent­ing re­search find­ings in fruit stor­age and lo­gis­tic prac­tices that will work in a com­mer­cial set­ting across in­dus­tries in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to ap­ples.

Ni­co­lette is en­joy­ing be­ing part of two global teams, Plant & Food Re­search and AgroFresh, and in­volved in projects on the ground where the real dif­fer­ence can be made. “The ma­jor­ity of my work has in­volved analysing what in­flu­ence fruit tem­per­a­ture and other en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors have on the at­mos­phere dur­ing a SmartFresh treat­ment and stor­age. This is ed­u­cat­ing us and cool store op­er­a­tors on how best to han­dle fruit.

“At Plant & Food Re­search we have a com­mu­nity of sci­en­tists, and in work­ing with AgroFresh there is ac­cess to a global en­vi­ron­ment as there are re­search teams through­out the busi­ness. With op­er­a­tions in both the north­ern and south­ern hemi­spheres, they man­age to fast track sci­en­tific projects. “The posthar­vest team at the Hawke’s Bay Re­search Cen­tre, headed by Ja­son John­ston, in­cludes my col­leagues Matt Punter and Han­nah Lloyd.”

Ad­ding value in hor­ti­cul­ture

Peter Lan­don-Lane, Plant & Food Re­search CEO: The re­la­tion­ship with AgroFresh has been trans­for­ma­tional and has al­lowed for step changes in the posthar­vest qual­ity man­age­ment of fruit in New Zealand. Com­bin­ing the knowl­edge that has devel­oped through our part­ner­ship has al­lowed us to de­velop new meth­ods for en­sur­ing New Zealand re­tains its rep­u­ta­tion for pre­mium qual­ity. We have also cap­i­talised on the op­por­tu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate new ar­eas of in­ter­est to both com­pa­nies, such as un­der­stand­ing how new tech­nolo­gies and big data can be em­ployed to man­age and en­hance the sup­ply chain.

Ja­son John­ston, Plant & Food Re­search Sci­ence Group

Leader, Posthar­vest: Posthar­vest sci­ence is crit­i­cal for en­sur­ing the best fruit qual­ity for ex­port, and our col­lab­o­ra­tion with AgroFresh and de­vel­op­ing tech­nol­ogy pipe­line adds new knowl­edge in this area. Build­ing sci­ence un­der­stand­ing and ca­pa­bil­ity in posthar­vest bi­ol­ogy helps to pro­vide best state of the art tools for keep­ing

New Zealand at the lead­ing edge of hor­ti­cul­ture. Jane Turner, AgroFresh Asia Pa­cific Mar­ket­ing Lead: A pri­mary fo­cus since AgroFresh be­gan has been the on­go­ing in­vest­ment in R&D and in peo­ple who un­der­stand the cus­tomer’s busi­ness and can ar­tic­u­late tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions. We view our part­ner­ship with Plant & Food Re­search as help­ing to build these tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties, where in­vest­ment in peo­ple and the ex­ten­sion of their knowl­edge de­liv­ers real value be­hind the tech­nol­ogy.

Mem­bers of Plant & Food Re­search’s posthar­vest team, L to R, Han­nah Lloyd, Matt Punter, Ni­co­lette Nie­mann and Ja­son John­ston (in­set).

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