Fruit production — like all agricultural practices — must adapt to climate change. Supply chains are already experiencing negative impacts from warping climates, with early and erratic crop flowering, reduced quality of fruits, the emergence of new diseases, and water supply issues all presenting new challenges. On top of these, larger threats such as floods, storms and droughts will likely increase in severity in the coming decades.

The problem

A reduction of harmful emissions across supply chains in the sector can be supplemented and strengthened through the introduction of sustainable initiatives like water management, improvements in soil quality, biodiversity protection and carbon capture. Improving local farming practices could have a dramatic impact on GHG emissions and has the added benefit of being hand in hand with more equitable social conditions for food production workers.

The global food and fruit processing company Danone pledged to cut its GHG emissions in half by 2030. Through the Friendly Fruit project, launched with co-partners INRA in France, Danone’s fruit buyers are analysing current fruit production practices to create guidelines to improve sustainability across the entire industry. This will not only reduce the negative environmental and social impacts associated with current methods of fruit production, but also make supply chains stronger.

The project consortium includes EIT Climate-KIC partner INRA, Italy’s biometeorology institute IBIMET, Wageningen University, Alma Mater Studiorum at the Università di Bologna, DanTrade B.V., Agro-Transfert Ressources et Territoires, Materne SAS, and Universita Politechnica delle Marche.

The solution

Friendly Fruit has changed agricultural practices in various regions to allow environment-friendly strawberry and apple fruit production. These two popular fruits account for 11 per cent of the global fruit market, and almost half of Danone’s global fruit production. The project focuses on the supply chain in close links with the farmers. It will use the scientific results to bring systemic change toward a sustainable fruit value chain through new guidelines and then assess the impacts of these practices.

Several newly-designed innovations are also being introduced: pest-resistant and high-performing fruit varieties better adapted to weather changes and maintaining higher levels of quality, mechanical weeding systems intended to bring down herbicide use and smart-sensors buried in soils which monitor water levels and improve the management of this vital resource. Five farm labs have been set up in Morocco to test new cultivars of strawberries, work on better use of water and fertilisers, and implement new biocontrol approaches to control pests and diseases.

The impact

Five farm labs have been set up in Morocco to test new cultivars of strawberries; work on better use of water and fertilisers; and implement new biocontrol approaches to control pests and diseases. Farmers learn farming techniques as well as business acumen.

INRA organised five co-design workshops and training sessionin collaboration with Danone and MOM, a large agro-food company and another commercial partner in the project. In July 2018, the Socrates Apple Academy was set up in France, to focus on innovative low-input orchard concepts, such as the reduction of pesticides, fertilisers and water. Three sessions were run in 2018 and 2019 in the Czech Republic, focusing on biodiversity enhancement. In February this year, a workshop was run with French apple growers on MOM’s orchards, to develop solutions against the rosy apple aphid.

It is still early days for the initiative, but there are some interesting environmental results already coming through. One apple orchard saw a 30 per cent reduction in water use in 2018, thanks to the monitoring equipment installed to control water supply. More impacts are expected along the way. Prototype spraying systems for strawberries are expected to increase efficiency by 60-70 per cent. New biocontrol products are to be tested on both fruits, including a more environmentally-friendly herbicide and a product for soil fumigation. Solar panels will be employed extensively throughout the farming projects, leading to a direct decrease in GHG emissions. And through the management of row and interrow farming, biodiversity is expected to increase in tandem with an optimisation of nitrogen and carbon cycles across multiple environmental biomes. Biodiversity levels and water use in apple orchards are monitored from the ground and air, using drones to take photos which are analysed to estimate theneeds in water of the trees. These data are then used to plan water management.

The final aim of the project is to disseminate the knowledge and expertise as widely as possible, to achieve impacts along the whole fruit chain in Europe and beyond.

EIT Climate-KIC’s role

EIT Climate-KIC’s CSA Booster flagship initiative provided Friendly Fruit with funding, and a network of experts and project partners. Climate KIC also helped to translate ideas generated in research labs into practical, real-world solutions to be experimented with and implemented in farms across the European Union and beyond.

The total budget of the project was about €3 million, €1.8 million of which was provided by the  EIT Climate-KIC. This was shared between the different activities of the project, with a strong emphasis on dissemination activities.

EIT Climate-KIC is discussing the project with food retailers to draw more partners into Friendly Fruit, and facilitate the dissemination of the scientific output. Project partners instill the same values and practical innovations in other fruit producers across Europe, to help transform the wider industry.

The next steps will be to measure the agronomical, economical, technical, social and environmental impact of the new practices, and to spread the message further. The EIT Climate-KIC’s support and contacts will be essential for this mission.

 
Success Stories you may be interested in
Success Stories
CLIMB Ferrara: Blending tech with community engage...

The CLIMB Ferrara project encourages active home-to-school mobility through...

CLIMB Ferrara: Blending tech with community engagement for active child mobility
Success Stories
Aligning Portfolios with Paris

The Challenge COP25 ended in December 2019 with little...

Aligning Portfolios with Paris
Success Stories
Social innovation living lab in Milan: Merezzate+

The Merezzate+ project demonstrates how urban environments offer the potential...

Social innovation living lab in Milan: Merezzate+
Success Stories
geoFootprint: mapping the environmental footprint ...

Agricultural supply chains are critical when it comes to...

geoFootprint: mapping the environmental footprint of agricultural supply chains
Success Stories
Feed-X: Accelerating Innovation to Boost Sustainab...

Food security will be a defining issue in supporting...

Feed-X: Accelerating Innovation to Boost Sustainability in Global Feed Production
Success Stories
WINnERS

As climate change and extreme weather events become more...

WINnERS
Success Stories
E-USE

The E-USE project has designed and created six pilot...

E-USE
Success Stories
Moabit West: Citizen engagement at the core of urb...

Our Smart Sustainable Districts team and our partner community...

Moabit West: Citizen engagement at the core of urban development plan
Success Stories
London Queen Elizabeth Park: Harnessing the power ...

Our Smart Sustainable Districts team and our partner community...

London Queen Elizabeth Park: Harnessing the power of an integrated single data platform to pursue sustainability projects
Success Stories
2nd SKIN: Systemic deep retrofit for social housin...

Refurbishment is a necessary step to reach the ambitious...

2nd SKIN: Systemic deep retrofit for social housing
Success Stories
Sofia Urban Challenge: finding agile solutions to ...

With EIT Climate-KIC’s support, the Bulgarian capital Sofia has...

Sofia Urban Challenge: finding agile solutions to air quality
Success Stories
Smart Sustainable Offices

The Smart Sustainable Office project has developed a suite...

Smart Sustainable Offices
Success Stories
Municipal E-Bus Planner 2 (Munep2)

Munep2 has developed innovative planning software that helps transport...

Municipal E-Bus Planner 2 (Munep2)
Success Stories
Moabit West, Berlin

Ambitious sustainability goals characterise the urban development plan of...

Moabit West, Berlin
Success Stories
Matchmaker

Matchmaker links private investors with suitable urban sustainability initiatives,...

Matchmaker
Success Stories
Low Carbon City Lab (LoCaL)

Low Carbon City Lab is a global innovation hub...

Low Carbon City Lab (LoCaL)
Success Stories
Facade Leasing

Facade Leasing is a pilot project that aims to...

Facade Leasing
Success Stories
Total Recycle Decommissioning (TRD)

Plans to build the EU’s first recycling facility for...

Total Recycle Decommissioning (TRD)
Success Stories
Place’In

Place’In, a web-based tool for planning and costing circular...

Place’In
Success Stories
Microalgae Biorefinery 2.0

EIT Climate-KIC Demonstrator project Microalgae Biorefinery 2.0 is an...

Microalgae Biorefinery 2.0
Success Stories
EnCO2re

EnCO2re is a flagship programme within EIT Climate-KIC’s Sustainable Production...

EnCO2re
Success Stories
SimGas

SimGas makes and installs domestic biogas systems in farms...

SimGas