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Research centres

Fresh Produce Research Centre

The world needs to eat more fresh produce; a lot more fresh produce!

The EAT Lancet report in 2019 recommended that the average 2050 diet should consist of approximately 50% fresh produce.  This requires a doubling of fruit and vegetable global production whilst minimising waste and environmental impact of this production. The solutions are going to come from genetics, agronomy, engineering, supply chain, retail etc.  All we know is that the challenge is real and EXCITING.

The Fresh Produce Research Centre is a multidisciplinary team at Harper Adams that has been addressing UK and global issues in horticultural crop production since 2011.  We work along the length of the supply chain - with active research on crop breeding, crop production using precision growing and harvesting systems, post-harvest physiology and food safety. Our work also links closely with researchers studying urban farming and integrated pest management

We focus on non-combinable crops grown in the field and in protected structures including the emerging area of vertical farming.  We have undertaken research on leafy vegetables (e.g. lettuce), soft fruit (e.g. strawberries), root vegetables (e.g. potatoes), top fruit (e.g. apples) and herbs (e.g. coriander).

Collaboration is a key aspect of the centre and we have current and recent collaborations with industry and academia in the UK and overseas.

FPRC Twitter

Meet the team

Prof Jim Monaghan established the Fresh Produce Research Centre in 2011.  He has worked on fresh produce crops at HAU since 2005 and has wide experience in plant physiology, phenotyping and food safety.  His favourite fresh produce crop to eat is a marmande tomato – with olive oil and salt.

Dr Andrew Beacham joined the Fresh Produce Research Centre in 2013. His work on fresh produce crops focusses on resilience to abiotic stress but his research interests also include crop pests and diseases, phenotyping methodologies and controlled environment and soilless production. He also likes growing chillies.

Dr Joe Roberts has worked on fresh produce crops at HAU since 2013. He has significant experience in analytical chemistry, specifically focussing on the characteristic phytochemicals responsible for plant defence and flavour. His favourite fresh produce crop is strawberry – especially with Cornish clotted cream!

Dr Ed Harris has over 15 years of experience in practicing applied experimental design, statistical data analysis, and machine learning, working on topics in ecology, conservation and agriculture. Ed grew up in the Tomato Capital of Florida (Ruskin, FL), but since 2019 has worked at HAU in sunny Shropshire, UK.

Paul Chunga is a Malawian agriculturist with particular interest in crop research. He has nine years of research experience with CGIARs and currently is pursuing a PhD in plant physiology at Harper Adams University under a BBRO studentship. His focus is to improve crop productivity through research that helps to address yield gaps and post-harvest losses. 

Dr Laura Vickers grew a fascination with plants during her undergraduate degree and joined the Fresh Produce Research Centre in 2012. Her research interests are in crop adaption to abiotic stress such as drought, in crop-pest interactions, and fresh produce production in urban agricultural systems. She doesn't have a favourite crop, but instead a selection of favourite dishes she frequently makes at home; curried cauliflower, strawberries and yogurt, honey glazed roasted vegetables (onions, parsnips and carrots). Yum.

Click on a profile for details of their research expertise and projects they are currently involved in:


  • Factsheet: Monitoring microbial food safety of fresh produce - Produced jointly by HDC and FSA for field technical staff, this factsheet guides the implementation of practical food safety and risk assessment. It provides background information on important potential microbial contaminants of fresh produce, and also considers the role of microbiological testing of indicator species for water and fresh produce, and the interpretation of laboratory reports within a food safety system.
Research notes


Research notes provide explanatory summaries of our current and completed research projects, aimed at non-specialists, students and practitioners in farming and associated industries.

Harper Adams University is a partner in Food and Farming Futures, the independent, collaborative news and information source for farming and food. You can also find research notes for any of our research projects on the Food and Farming Futures website.


Fresh produce in a time of COVID Fresh produce in a time of COVID In the days following the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, the fresh produce sector moved into the news headlines with shelves stripped bare of fruit and veg, empty boxes in the produce aisle and produce destined for restaurants and school kitchens with nowhere to go. As things have settled down into a new normal, the fresh produce supply chain has addressed many of these challenges but it appears that we won’t return to the old ways of working anytime soon. And who could have predicted that farmers and growers would be officially recognised as key workers! Posted 5 May 2020

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