Reducing Food Loss Through Post-harvest Improvements and Market Expansion

Grants and Contracts Details


Reducing food loss through post-harvest improvements and market expansion Kentucky’s fruit and vegetable operations are expanding rapidly, increasing 46% between 2012 and 2017, and generating a market value of almost $160 million. With high local demand and high potential grower returns – especially on small acreages – specialty crops are increasingly attractive and profitable enterprises for Kentucky farm families. Significant barriers exist that reduce economic potential, including the critical issue of food product loss and food waste and the complexities of navigating intermediated marketing channels. This project focuses on reducing post-harvest product loss through improved practices and technologies and preparing growers for new market channels through Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification and on-boarding. The Kentucky Horticulture Council, the University of Kentucky, Cultivate Kentucky, the Kentucky Vegetable Growers Association, the Kentucky State Horticulture Society, Local Food Connection, and other stakeholders will partner to provide direct technical assistance, educational programs, and innovative tools and resources to help prospective and established specialty crop growers reduce post-production losses and enter new markets. Specifically, 2,500 growers will participate in general educational programs and 100 in GAP- specific programs; 250 growers will receive direct technical assistance to improve sales through post-harvest marketing improvements and 80 growers will receive GAP certification technical assistance, with 12 completing an on-boarding program after completing a third-party audit. Expected outcomes include better educated prospective, new, and experienced produce growers as well as increased capacity and expanded markets for Kentucky produce growers and regional food businesses. These improvements will increase access to and availability of fruit and vegetable products grown in Kentucky. UK Horticulture and Plant Pathology will make farm visits and provide remote support to growers, prospective growers, and county agents to provide harvest and post-harvest storage recommendations in order to improve production selection, quality, and reduce food waste. We will also assist local food hubs and aggregators with optimizing product storage conditions to preserve product quality. We will also support entrepreneurs in development of value-added products and preserving the cold chain. Food quality is related to product selection and can vary among varieties within the same species. We will demonstrate this through variety trials and post-harvest storage demonstrations. We will also generate resources such as fact sheets and videos to discuss and demonstrate how food quality can decline and the steps to take to prevent and reduce food loss in post-harvest situations and offer educational programming on food loss prevention and post-harvest strategies.
Effective start/end date1/1/229/29/24


  • Kentucky Horticulture Council: $235,000.00


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