Fruit and vegetables play an important role in healthy nutrition and are high on the list of consumer priorities. However the major obstacle of purchasing ready-to-eat fresh-cut fruits and vegetables is their short shelf life, leading to quick degeneration and decomposition of the product and undesirable look and negative palatability.
The problem with fruit and vegetables is, that even after harvesting, they are still living products undergoing a ripening process and at the end an ageing process, in which the plant tissue is broken down. The products undergo various biological processes, which cause gradual changes in the quality.
To quantify the importance of the fresh produce sector, AMI, the agricultural market information service based in Bonn/Germany, estimates that worldwide in 2014 a total of approximately 970 million tonnes of vegetables and about 820 million tonnes of fruit were produced. Production of both fruit and vegetables has risen steadily in recent years.
The importance of the fresh produce market segment showed in the first week of February when Berlin was all set for the “Fruit Logistica”, the annual international fresh produce event of the year. This leading international meeting place of the fresh produce trade, assembled some 2,785 exhibitors from 83 countries, while some 65,000 professional visitors from across the entire fresh produce chain, including global players as well as small and medium-sized suppliers from all around the world, attended the exhibition.
The percentage of trade visitors from outside Germany increased again this year to 84%, with the majority coming from Europe (75.6%), the Americas (9.8%), Africa (6.5%), the Middle East (3.8%), Asia (3.2%) and Oceania (1.1%).
This year I haven’t seen many “turning-around” innovations in fresh produce packaging. I have a few which I will describe in a next article. In this article I like to walk around and have a look at “how the world is packaging fresh produce”. I selected a collection of images from a photo session made by Fresh Plaza.
There is not much to tell about it, just have a look, get some new ideas and savour the way “the world” is packaging fresh produce to minimise food waste and serve our lunch and dinner table, wherever we are.
Keep in mind that packaging technology can overcome the challenge of deterioration of fresh produce by providing extended shelf life and reducing accumulation of product decomposition liquids in the packaging bottom. The correct packaging enables processors to pack fresh-cut fruit and vegetables and extend their shelf life. The important parameters for this shelf life extension are temperature, moisture and a modified atmosphere (oxygen, carbon dioxide and ethylene). Packaging can really make a difference. If both temperature and packaging are optimal, ageing of fruit and vegetables can be slowed down with up to more than 800%.
In a next article in more detail some innovative items from Fruit Logistica.
Photos courtesy Fresh Plaza