It IS possible to extend the time between when fruit is picked and when it starts to brown, soften and generally “go off.”

Fruit is a living thing, and it continues to live even after it’s picked. Like us, it breathes, using up oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide and water vapour. How long it lives, however, is completely dependent on how it’s packaged, transported and stored after harvest.

The two most important processes in the continued ripening of fruit are respiration and transpiration. The rate of respiration depends on the type of fruit itself, and the temperature at which it is stored – the warmer the ambient temperature, the more rapid the respiration will be. Respiration is also influenced by what time of year it is, as well as what region you’re in – the same type of fruit can have different respiration rates in different parts of the country!

Transpiration is the process through which moisture is lost through evaporation, and is the reason why apples and grapes, for example, begin to look wrinkled as they age.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is proving hugely successful in significantly extending the shelf-life of harvested fruit by regulating the levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the space immediately surrounding the produce.

The levels and combinations of gases are specifically calculated according to the type of fruit being packaged. Apples and pears, for instance, are particularly sensitive to internal browning when CO2 levels are not kept very low. Controlling the respiration of fruit inhibits skin bruising, flesh softening and the formation of fungus, keeping fruit looking and tasting fresher for much longer.

MAP is significantly more effective at preserving the just-picked condition of fruit than Controlled Atmosphere (CA) packaging when it comes to the long-distance transportation of fruit. This effect can be preserved throughout the entire supply chain, from picking and packing to the supermarket – and even beyond, into the fridges of consumers.

Soft fruit too benefits greatly from Modified Atmosphere Packaging. Blueberries, for example, which are prone to becoming overly soft or even “fizzy” when exposed to too-high levels of carbon dioxide, maintain much higher concentrations of their antioxidants – even over long distances – when packaged using MAP.

Making A Hole Lot Of Difference

MA Packaging controls the environment inside the packs better than any other product available. The secret is in the micro perforations in the packaging film itself. Although invisible to the naked eye, these holes are absolutely critical to the preservation of the quality and shelf life of the fruit. The size and number of these holes is worked out to the most minute detail, as even one too many holes can make the difference of between 1 and 3 extra days of shelf life.

The best way to make holes with this kind of accuracy is by using a special laser system. As all packaging film varies in thickness, the laser needs to be able to adjust itself automatically to balance out these variations. The PerfoTec laser, with its patented closed-loop-feedback-camera system, is the only laser in the world that has this ability.

Mapflex is a joint venture between international companies and is a recognised specialist in PerfoTec packaging. We ensure the right films and packaging methods are used to maximise the benefits of equilibrium modified atmosphere (EMA). Contact us for tailored packaging solutions and modified atmosphere packaging products specifically suited to your fresh produce needs.