Fresh food producers know that no matter how perfect their produce is when it leaves the farm, it’s what it looks like when it’s on the shelves in front of increasingly fussy consumers that counts. Fruit and veg that look wrinkled, bruised, brown or wilted simply won’t sell, resulting in a loss of revenue than ricochets all the way back along the supply chain.
Ensuring produce reaches consumers in an appealing condition is in everyone’s best interest, and this is why the packaging you choose is so important. Packaging acts as a kind of silent salesman for your produce. Labelling and design can only do so much – the packaging has to work on a structural and technical level as well.
The beauty of Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) lies in the fact that it has been proven to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce by up to 50% – but without the need for artificial chemicals or preservatives. MAP uses the gases we breathe (nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide) to increase the longevity of fruit and vegetables. These gases are neither dangerous or toxic, nor are they regarded as food additives, meaning they are perfect for organic produce as well.
Oxygen is used in the metabolic processes of both the produce itself and the micro-organisms responsible for aerobic spoilage. This is why O2 levels inside MAP are usually kept as low as possible. It is still needed, however, in order to prevent anaerobic respiration, which speeds up the decay of fresh produce. Where MAP is used to package meat, oxygen actually helps to maintain the levels of oxymyoglobin, which is responsible for prolonging meat’s attractive bright red colour.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Carbon dioxide is bacteriostatic (it inhibits bacterial growth) and fungistatic (it inhibits the growth of mould). It has also been shown to be effective in preventing insect growth. However, if fresh produce absorbs too much CO2, the total volume inside the packaging will reduce, causing what’s known as “pack collapse.” Too much CO2 also causes physiological damage to the product itself, so it’s very important to ensure that CO2 is kept in the packaging headspace as much as possible, and not absorbed into the produce.
Nitrogen is a tasteless and inert gas that has negligible antimicrobial activity on its own, but, when it displaces oxygen inside packaging, can delay oxidative rancidity. It is also often used as a filler gas, and keeps flexible packages from developing a vacuum.
Mapflex’s modified atmosphere packaging is backed up by extensive and scientific research, and works in harmony with the natural respiration of food, matching its permeability to the breathing rate of the fresh produce concerned.
Contact us today for tailored packaging solutions specifically suited to your fresh produce needs.