New professor designed new boxes and cooling protocols for the export of citrus

Thijs Defraeye has been appointed professor by special appointment of ‘Data and Simulations for Self-care Postharvest Fresh-food Supply Chains’ at the Food, Quality & Design group. The position is funded by Empa, a Swiss research institute involved in materials science and technology. In his research, Defraeye focuses on quality loss of fruit and vegetables after harvest; in every shipment within a supply chain. In doing so, he uses physical models and data upcycling. Within Wageningen University & Research, Defraeye will work closely with both the university branch and the research side.

Defraeye works at Empa. There he tries to extend the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables, combat food waste and make supply chains more resilient through better decision-making and logistics. Together with his colleagues, Defraeye wants to help provide consumers worldwide with nutritious, attractive and affordable fresh food. To take steps in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and obesity.

Defraeye studied civil engineering at KU Leuven. “After graduating in 2006, I knew for sure that I would never be on a construction site,” says Defraeye. “I needed a different challenge.” He dived into a PhD research at KU Leuven on convective drying processes in porous materials. He then changed direction and ended up in post-harvest nutrition sciences and technology.

Science driven improvement
During his career, Defraeye visited South Africa several times, where he and Citrus Research International designed new boxes and cooling protocols for the export of citrus. There he was inspired by the extreme drive of researchers and stakeholders to innovate, and by the impact that science and his skills could make. “This collaboration was one of the main drivers for me to set up a line of research in post-harvest technology,” says Defraeye.

The research
In addition to optimizing shelf life and reducing food waste, Defraeye will be looking for ways to reduce stakeholder involvement in transport monitoring, decision-making and logistics interventions in the coming years. This is what the new professor by special appointment wants to achieve with self-care food systems. In addition, the food – not the stakeholders – is the main driver to drive intelligent decisions and actions to extend the life of the food from farm to fork. This applies in particular to domestic and imported fruit, vegetables and ornamental crops.

Source: WUR

Leave a Comment