Modified Atmosphere Packaging is a game-changing phenomenon in many countries around the world. Interestingly enough, one of the first applications of MAP technology was introduced in America by fast food chain McDonald’s. They used modified atmosphere packaging to pack lettuce in bulk and distribute it to retail outlets around the country so that it would remain fresh and shelf-stable for much longer periods of time than was previously possible.

At Mapflex here in South Africa, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at how other countries make use of this revolutionary technology is, and what products they package using MAP.

Coffee Technology

Over 3.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world every day. Because coffee is a tropical, evergreen plant, it grows best between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. Within this vast region, there are over 70 countries that produce coffee, but the majority comes from just five – Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

After being roasted, coffee beans release carbon dioxide. Before the advent of MAP, roasters had to wait for the beans to cool and de-gas before they packed them, otherwise, the CO2 would build up and cause the packaging to burst. The cooling process, however, meant that the beans didn’t reach consumers as fresh as they should have, as coffee quickly becomes stale when exposed to air.

The adoption of specialised MAP technology by many coffee-producing countries means carbon dioxide is released through a one-way valve, but no ambient atmospheric gases can enter the packaging. This means coffee can be packaged very quickly after roasting, at the height of its freshness.

Pharmaceutical Pillows

Have you ever wondered what those little “pillows” are inside your pill bottles? They are often blue and white, and are labelled “do not ingest.” These are types of modified atmosphere packaging, but this time, they’re inside with the product and not outside surrounding it.

These packs have one of two functions, depending on what type they are. Oxygen scavenger packs, as their name implies, decrease the amount of oxygen in the packaging, while desiccant packs help to remove moisture. Although they are small, they are highly effective at extending the shelf-life of your medications.

Packaging Papaya

Although papaya is a fruit, and the benefits of using MAP technology to prolong the shelf-life of fruit are well documented, an agricultural company in Bengaluru in India recently successfully extended the shelf-life of papaya by over four weeks, which opened up a whole new export market for them in Dubai.
Using Perfotec’s Fast Respiration system to calculate the respiration rate of the fruit, and then Perfotec’s laser system to make micro perforations based on the respiration rate, weight and target oxygen levels, they were able to create the perfect modified atmosphere.

Mapflex International gives you the opportunity for to optimise your packing at the source, no matter what produce you grow. Talk to us about how you can increase your bottom line by increasing the shelf life of your produce.