BARFOOTS is a British farming and food company founded by Peter Barfoot in 1976. Since then the company has expanded and is now present in Europe, Africa and South America. In its origin, Barfoots was a small family farm with a modest range of crops. The constant innovation and introduction of ‘exotic’ products, such as courgettes and sweet corn, has been one of the key of its success. In spite of the international characteristic of the company, Barfoots has not changed their original philosophy of ‘looking after the land like you are going to farm forever’. The use of minimum tillage and cover crops to protect the soil, generating energy, and developing a water stewardship standard to address water challenges are some of the action points of the Barfoots sustainability programme.

As any farming company Barfoots generates waste from product preparation and postharvest loss. This waste is generated during the food handling and packaging such as sweet potato roots, sweet corn husk and trimmed cob ends. Moreover, other losses derived from postharvest losses as physical or biological wounded products, deteriorating, browning or non-marketable products are an important source of waste production and product loss.

Some of this losses are unavoidable, but Barfoots has developed a programme of ‘Reducing, reusing and recycling’ to produce energy and other materials as fertilizers from their own waste through the investment in an Anaerobic Digestor. Subsequently, since 2010 Barfoots has been a carbon-neutral business.

The aim of this project

For postharvest losses, Barfoots works in collaboration with the University of Southampton (UK) and the University of California, Davis (USA) to reduce food waste produced through the supply chain.

Currently, their investigation is focused on their king of Barfoots products; sweet corn. The company produces sweet corn all the year around, combining multiple providers between England and Senegal. As sweet corn is a very perishable crop causing sweetness loss, the optimization of the supply chain, handling and postharvest treatments are essential to ensure the highest quality of the products. The aims of this collaboration is to research the main postharvest issues that affect the quality of sweet corn. Investigating topics from the field conditions to the kernel metabolism, going through shipment conditions, postharvest handling, and product packaging.

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