Vegetable production accounts for 9% of the total value of agricultural production which is $58 billion in Australia

It is estimated that around 18-22 % of fruits and vegetables are lost during the production and processing/packaging stage in the chain

These overwhelming statistics of food wastes not only warranted efficient management of temperature

Regional Innovation

Innovation PhD Project: Technology adoption in vegetable value chains

Improving adoption of temperature monitoring technologies in the vegetable value chains: Case study of South East Queensland

Researcher: Mr Moudassir HabibThe University of Southern Queensland





Supervisors: Associate Professor Ben Lyons(USQ), Associate Professor Damian Hine (UQ), Daryl Joyce (UQ)

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Australian economic and social development. This sector accounts for 58% of the Australian land use (385 million hectares), 59% of water extractions, 14% of overall exports and contributes 2.7% to the GDP (ABARES 2018) and also provide 2.5% of the employment. This sector has played a significant role in providing food and fibre products to the nation and also around the world and innovation has been a significant contributor to the success of Australian agriculture.

The vegetable growing sector in Australia is a major source of food. Vegetable production accounts for 9% of the total value of agricultural production which is $58 billion in Australia (ABS 2018b). It supplies fresh vegetables and processed vegetable products mostly consumed in Australia but also for export. The gross value of vegetable production increased by 9% in 2016-17 to AU$ 3.9 billion which made the vegetable sector the fourth-highest sector of agricultural value in Australia after livestock, wheat and fruit and nuts (ABARES 2018). The vegetable sector contributed around 1 % ( AU$ 354 million) of agricultural export income in the year 2016-17(ABS 2018a).

During the last decade, the total number of vegetable-growing farms fell by 31%, however, this number increased in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania over the same period. In Queensland, during 2016-17, 618 vegetable-growing farms accounted for 24 % of the country’s vegetable farms. Most of the vegetable farms in Queensland are located on the Darling Downs, Bundaberg and in Burdekin delta regions.

Study Stakeholders:  

  • Vegetable growers: Understand the behavioural and psychological factors of non adoption
  • Transport companies: the issues these companies have in management of temperature monitoring
  • Technology providers: identifying gaps between the offerings and needs of the growers
  • Distribution centres: identifying and understanding ways to reduce waste and provide more quality to the customers 

Problem Statement:

Globally, it is estimated that around 30 % of the food produced for human consumption is wasted annually due to lack of proper management along the chain (Jan, Tistivint et al. 2013). The agri-food chain alone in the US loses up to 40% of its food from the production to consumption (Gunders and Bloom 2017). In Canada, it is estimated that $25 billion worth of food is wasted each year (Young 2012) and approximately 10% of the fresh produce from farm to fork is wasted in Europe (Jedermann, Nicometo et al. 2014). In the horticulture sector of  Australia, it is estimated that around 18-22 % of fruits and vegetables are lost during the production and processing/packaging stage in the chain (CSIRO 2019).

Fresh fruits and vegetables are commonly highly spoiled products where more than 50% (one of every two) are wasted and the predominant reason for this is related to insufficient control of the temperature along the chain (Hundy, Trott et al. 2016). These overwhelming statistics of food wastes not only warranted efficient management of temperature but also an attempt to meet the goals of global food security challenges. In principle, food wastage can be minimized by controlling and monitoring the temperature along the chain and this measure will also improve the quality of the product, enhances customer satisfaction and at the end meet the challenge of overarching global food security.

Temperature management along the chain also enhance product quality, safety and shelf life (Óskarsdóttir and Oddsson 2019). The quality of fruits and vegetables is primarily evaluated from sensorial, nutritional and safety aspects. At the retail stores, the sensory quality of fresh produce including appearance, colour, flavour and texture would affect the consumer buying behaviour and deterioration of these qualities would influence the shelf life and also the acceptance of the product by the consumers (Ma, Zhang et al. 2017).

Furthermore, traceability of temperature along the supply chain of perishable products such as vegetable produce is integral to ensure food quality and safety and also to enhance the shelf life of the product. Numerous technologies are currently available to trace temperature monitoring in the chain. The most common technologies that capture the temperature data in the food chain are temperature data loggers, radio frequency identification temperature tags and sim and non-sim based wireless sensor networks. However, adoption of these temperature monitoring gadgets along the chain is still an issue. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to investigate the process of adoption of temperature monitoring technologies across the vegetable supply chain. This is addressed by investigating the innovative, organizational behavioral and social factors that drive temperature monitoring technologies adoption from the lens of the whole chain approach including producers and associated industries including technology providers in the vegetable chain in southeast Queensland using case study approach.

A key outcome of the research is the design and development of a “tool box” which may, for example, include procedures or processes to identify key blocks to the adoption temperature monitoring technologies in the vegetable value chain and to signpost approaches to overcome these and improve the use of these technologies.



List of References

ABARES (2018). Agricultural commodities: June quarter 2018. A. B. o. A. a. R. E. Sciences. Canberra

ABARES (2018). Snapshot of Australian Agriculture S. H.-D. Tom Jackson, Kirk Zammit Canberra

ABS (2018a). Agricultural commodities, Australia, 2016-17. A. B. o. Statistics. Canberra.

ABS (2018b). Value of agricultural commodities produced, Australia, 2016–17. A. B. o. Statistics. Canberra. cat. no. 7503.0.

CSIRO (2019, 11 June 2019). "Mapping horticultural food loss ". 2019, from

Gunders, D. and J. Bloom (2017). Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill, Natural Resources Defense Council New York.

Hundy, G., et al. (2016). "Chapter 17–The Cold Chain–Transport, Storage, Retail." Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps: 273-287.

Jan, O., et al. (2013). "Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, Summary Report." Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Jedermann, R., et al. (2014). Reducing food losses by intelligent food logistics, The Royal Society Publishing.

Ma, L., et al. (2017). "Recent developments in novel shelf life extension technologies of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables." Trends in Food Science & Technology 64: 23-38.

Óskarsdóttir, K. and G. V. Oddsson (2019). "Towards a decision support framework for technologies used in cold supply chain traceability." Journal of Food Engineering 240: 153-159.

Young, L. (2012). "Our big problem? We're wasting food ". Retrieved 23/07, 2019.