Horticultural Quality and Food Loss



The Horticultural Quality and Food Loss group was initiated in April 2023 as a follow-up to BBSRC-funded HortQFL Network. This groups will aim to maintainthe community that has been developed by HortQFL Network and to engage with a new cohort of interested parties.

The primary objective of the group is to explore innovative strategies that aim to reduce food loss. This includes through improving the quality of horticultural crops with regard reducing post-harvest losses. We hope that this group can be a leading voice in the horticultural and postharvest research and business community.

The group will focus on post-farm gate problems, with the recognition that the solution to these may require pre-farm gate intervention. We are interested in the entire supply chain, from breeders to retailer and consumer albeit with a focus on crop and post-harvest quality.


Group Convener

Natalia Falagan


Natalia obtained her PhD in Food Engineering in 2015 conducting her research in two centres of excellence: University of California (Davis, USA) and Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA, Bordeaux, France). She joined the Plant Science Laboratory at Cranfield in 2016 and is now Lecturer in Food Science and Technology. Natalia is driven by the need to reduce food waste and improve food security; while maintaining the quality and safety of fresh produce across the supply chain. She investigates the underlying ripening and senescence mechanisms of fruit and vegetables and develops innovative strategies for postharvest management.

Group Members

Jo Hepworth


Jo is an Assistant Professor at Durham University, researching how plants sense and integrate information in the field, particularly winter cold, to make developmental decisions. In Brassica crops such as B. oleracea and B. rapa, these decisions affect the size of the crop, its quality, and when it will flower, all critical factors for farmers to prevent gluts and scarcities and get the best yield from their cauliflowers, cabbages and pak choi. The group works to identify genetic variation controlling these traits and develop predictive power for how these variants control crop performance for breeders and farmers.

Mohammed Wasim Siddiqui


Dr Siddiqui is an established postharvest researcher, academic, and editor. Presently, he is an Assistant Professor and Scientist, Bihar Agricultural University, Sabour, India. He is also serving World Food Preservation Center LLC, USA as an Executive Director. Dr Siddiqui is one of the Top 2 % Researchers of the World enlisted by Stanford University (2021 and 2022). He is an Ambassador of World Food Preservation Center, USA since 2017. He also served Postharvest Education Foundation, USA as a member of Board of Directors (2020). He is the founding editor of two book series namely “Postharvest Biology and Technology” and “Innovations in Horticultural Science” (Apple Academic Press, New Jersey, USA). He is founder editor in chief of Journal of Postharvest Technology.

Ciara O'Brien


Ciara is a final year PhD student with the Plant Science Laboratory in Cranfield University. Their current work is on mango ripening, including physiology, biochemistry, and non-destructive analyses, in partnership with industry. Their research interests are improving the understanding the causes of physiological changes in plants at the biochemical and molecular levels, toward crop improvement. 

Lindsay Williams


I am a PhD student at the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences at the University of Edinburgh researching the immune system of brassicas post-harvest.  I work in molecular biology, bioengineering, and plant pathology, aiming to improve the shelf-life of leafy vegetables. I am also an ambassador for Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance (SULSA) promoting academic relationships with the industrial sector.

Luke Bell


Luke is a research lecturer in temperate horticulture at the University of Reading. He is known for his research linking plant phytochemicals with taste and flavour perceptions, specialising in mass spectrometry and transcriptome techniques. He works with industry on several projects, and his current research explores the interaction of the environment with crop stress responses, and how this gives rise to changes in nutritional & quality traits, as well as plant physiology. Ongoing research is looking at a variety of crops, including salad rocket, kale, millets, potatoes, and crop wild relatives.

MariCarmen Alamar


Dr Alamar is Lecturer in Postharvest Biology and leads the Plant Science Laboratory at Cranfield University. Her area of research is postharvest biology, with a focus in fundamental postharvest physiology and the development of innovative and sustainable technologies to maintain the quality of horticultural produce. Her research interests also include the investigation of non-invasive techniques as decision support tools for food quality assessment. It is by the integration of both areas of research that I am contributing towards more sustainable supply chains, food quality and security, and waste reduction in the horticulture sector.