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International Co-operation in Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology Research

Background

Many studies show that regular consumption of fresh fruit contributes to better health by, for example, helping prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases. However, consumers are often unaware of the health benefits of fruit, and others are turned off by high prices, low quality or inconvenience compared with competing fruit-based snack and soft-drink products. Consumers are often concerned about pesticide residues and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food chain. Some fruits and fruit products are not always available on the market.

Project profile

The wide-ranging ISAFRUIT project aims to boost Europeans’ consumption of fruit to improve their health. It plans to do this by helping growers produce safer, more appealing and convenient products at better prices, and by enhancing consumer awareness about the health benefits of fruit and increasing their confidence in the safety of fresh fruits. ISAFRUIT’s 61 partners – 40 institutes and 21 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – are contributing 200 specialists from several backgrounds, such as medicine, marketing, food science, agronomy, plant science, genetics and genomics, among others.

International aspects

ISAFRUIT has access to important genetic information on apple breeding from its partner in New Zealand and expertise in stone fruit post-harvest management from the University of California-Davis.

Socio-economic significance

ISAFRUIT will have the following long-term socio-economic impact:

  • In depth understanding of fruit consumption dynamics and European consumers’ preferences
  • Lower fruit prices, due to improved production efficiency of new varieties suitable for low-input and organic fruit production systems
  • Identification of apple varieties with reduced allergenic potential.

Scientific significance

The project will contribute to the following scientific areas:

  • Improved genetics of fruit quality and varieties, such as GMO apples with low- or non-allergenic potential
  • Improved microbial, physical and chemical stability for longer shelf life of minimally processed fruits
  • Sustainable non-chemical alternatives for pesticide use.

Project outcomes

  • Convenient fruit products, for example, processed fruit snacks
  • Improved pre- and post-harvest chain management
  • Conferences, publications, training and continuing education courses for fruit supply-chain players.

Basic project information

  • Acronym: ISAFRUIT
  • Full project title: Increasing fruit consumption through a trans-disciplinary approach delivering high-quality produce from environmentally friendly, sustainable production methods
  • Duration: 54 months
  • Starting year: 2006
  • EU funding: €13.8 million
  • FP6 instrument used: Integrated Project
  • Project coordinator:
    Ole Callesen
    Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Aarslev
    Denmark
    ole.callesen@agrsci.dk
  • Third country partner(s) involved:
    The Horticulture and Food Research Institute (New Zealand)
    University of California, Davis (United States)
  • Project website: www.isafruit.org
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