Food losses occur in all agricultural value chains, but are especially high in the fruit and vegetable sector. This study quantifies losses of selected fruits (strawberries, apples) and vegetables (lettuce, carrots), identifies the main reasons for food losses, and assesses effective measures for the reduction of these losses. Data were collected in structured interviews with value chain actors from production to food retail and validated in regional expert workshops. Results show that in average years, about 25% of the analysed vegetables are lost at farm level. The range of fruit losses differs widely, from 15% to 20% for strawberries and only 6% to 16% for apples. Weather is a major factor for crop losses, since it can strongly affect product appearance and hence marketability in the food retail sector. There is a lack of alternative market channels for products, which do not meet the high-quality standards for fresh products in the retail sector. Effective measures to reduce food losses are protected cultivation in greenhouses or under hail nets, continuous cooling systems, improved packaging and training of staff. More cooperation and coordination between producers, wholesalers and retailers could also increase the share of marketable products.
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