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Institute of

MA Market Analysis


Quality requirements and food loss in fruit and vegetables

© Felicitas Schneider

Quality requirements and food losses in fruit and vegetables

Specific quality requirements and standards put forward by food retailing companies for fruit and vegetables are regarded as one cause of food loss in the upstream supply chain. In this case study we investigate the interdependencies and aim to quantify such losses in one retailer’s supply chain.

Background and Objective

Current scientific evidence suggests that the requirements of various companies in the food retail sector for fruit and vegetables go beyond the legal minimum requirements, thereby causing food losses in the supply chain. However, it has not yet been clarified which specific requirements and practices lead to which losses. The aim of this case study is to analyze the influence of the product requirements (e.g. in terms of appearance, size, shape and color) and business practices (e.g. in relation to ordering processes and communication) of a specific food retailing company on food losses. The case study examines selected supply chains of a German retailing company from Spain, Italy and Germany.

Target Group

scientists, food retail, policy makers, horticulture


Through interviews with relevant actors of the supply chain, we gain insights into the structure and organization of this retail company’s fruit and vegetable sourcing. The most important loss points and quality requirements are also determined during the interviews. An online survey with producers and producer associations serves to quantify losses resulting from distinct product requirements. Based on this, we estimate the reduction potential of fruit and vegetable losses using exemplary crops when adapting company-specific quality requirements and business practices. From this, recommendations for effective adaptation measures are derived.

Data and Methods

  • qualitative interviews with relevant actors in the fruit and vegetable supply chain
  • quantitative online survey with producers and producer associations

Our Research Questions

  • Which company-specific product requirements and practices cause food losses in the supply chain of selected fruit and vegetable crops?
  • How high are the food losses caused by these quality requirements and practices within the fruit and vegetable sector?
  • What is the potential to reduce food losses by adapting company-specific quality requirements and practices?


The results of the project contribute to a better understanding of the connections between product requirements and losses in the supply chain and show the potential of measures to reduce these losses.

Links and Downloads 

Publikationen zu dem Projekt

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