Tools for strategic management of postharvest technology: an application to the Portuguese pear industry

D.P.F. Almeida
Technology management is an essential part of business planning. Rapid technological turnover and regulatory changes, such as the ban on chemicals for postharvest applications, can disrupt equilibria within supply-chains and challenge the horticultural business in a context of intense international competition. A recent example is the ban on diphenylamine (DPA), which had been the standard technology to mitigate superficial scald and internal browning disorders during long-term storage of ‘Rocha’ pear. In 2010, the economic impact of the ban on DPA on the Portuguese pear industry was estimated in 22 to 39 million euros, i.e., 16 to 28% of the crop value, and the industry was caught without alternatives. This example highlights that technology is an external variable for the horticultural industry and adequate transitions between technologies require surveillance for adequate timing and a good understanding of technological curves. As a consequence, a toolkit to support the strategic management of postharvest technology was developed and applied to the Portuguese pear industry. Industry managers were asked to list the postharvest technologies most relevant to their business. After this open list, the concepts underlying technology management were explained and the participants were guided through a series of templates in order to sequentially identify i) the company’s technology portfolio, ii) a technological matrix to position each technology according to its competitive impact and the degree to which the company is skilled dealing with the technology, iii) position the technology in its life cycle, iv) list five technologies that should object to continuous technological surveillance and, finally, v) develop a technology roadmap. At the end of the workshop an industry-wide assessment of technology was produced. In brief, postharvest fungicides, grading, and packaging systems were considered basic technologies, those that are dominated by the company but no longer provide competitive advantages. Dynamic controlled atmosphere and 1-methylcycloprpene were considered key technologies, i.e., those that are likely to have large competitive advantages for the sector. Finally, non-destructive methods for quality assessment, edible coatings, water disinfectants, and novel fungicide formulations were considered the main emerging technologies that require surveillance. Awareness of the technological changes by horticultural production and packinghouse businesses had limited foresight.
Almeida, D.P.F. (2019). Tools for strategic management of postharvest technology: an application to the Portuguese pear industry. Acta Hortic. 1242, 231-238
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1242.32
innovation management, horticulture industry, postharvest technology, technology life cycle, technology portfolio

Acta Horticulturae