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Optimising fresh produce quality monitoring and analysis

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Vivien Gruar.

MM Flowers is the UK’s leading, integrated cut flower grower, importer and distributer, producing bouquets for the leading UK high-street retailers. MM has key growing bases across the world, and therefore imports a large number of species and cultivars of cut flowers. Cut flowers are subject to a wide range of environmental conditions within the supply chain, from local growers to those shipped from Kenya and Colombia. Temperature and time are two key factors in optimising quality of the post-harvest life, and the huge variation in cut flower species makes this particularly challenging to deliver a quality product for the end consumer.

MM receives on average 600,000 stems of cut flowers daily, which increases dramatically during periods such as Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. To ensure the quality of product is delivered, a dedicated quality control team undertake daily inspections of the raw materials received, and in turn have generated a vast array of data over the last 10 years. The data recorded includes flower quality assessments, grower information and vase performance data. This data has been used historically to help identify the source of quality challenges originating from growing or the onward supply chain.

To further improve the operational processes from farm to store, this data, including the methodology behind current sampling protocols, needs to be reviewed and analysed in greater detail to develop tools and techniques that can optimise MM practices. It is important to assess how current processes can be adapted and improved into daily quality inspection routines based on mathematical modelling, including validation of any models developed. Further to this, the student can expect to gain valuable experience working within a fast-paced business in the fresh produce sector. This includes liaising with different departments, project management, communication skills, and working towards the needs of the business.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Mathematics Placements Seminars series.

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