Friday, August 5, 2011

Fruit packaging technology

Water loss and microbial decay are the two most important factors that render fresh fruit unfit for sale within few days after harvest.

The function of a package is primarily to contain and protect the produce.

Fruits cannot be stored or shipped unpacked. Besides serving as an efficient handling unit in a specified volume, packaging also protects the fruit from the hazards of transportation and storage.

Packaging is done to delay physiological and pathological deteriorative changes.

Fruit packaging has progressed in the past several years. Appropriate packaging materials have been developed for most of the more common fresh-cut products. Technical challenges still exist in fruit packaging.

With fresh fruit packaging there are often two levels of packaging. The first is the pack in which the produce is offered to the consumer. The second is the pack that contains the consumer pack and is used to transport the product to the retail market.

The size of the package is therefore important; the consumer pack should be designed in terms of the amount the market or customer requires in a single unit.

At retail levels, fresh fruit have traditionally been sold loose in nets or polyethylene bags. Ten years ago stretch wrapped goods over molded plastic or pulp trays have been used and the demands for quality and freshness from retailers and consumers have led, in some countries to the development of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) systems.

In MAP alteration of the atmosphere around the fresh produce causes a change in respiration rate and this fact is used to retard ripening of certain produce. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) relatively effective at inhibiting the fruit spoilage mechanisms, thereby extending shelf life.

Shelf life extension also results in the commercial benefits of less wastage in manufacturing and retail display, long distribution channels, improved product image and the ability to sell convenient, added value, fresh prepared produce items, to the consumer.

Packaging can take the form of waxed cartoons, direct film wraps and bags or overwrapped trays. All of these can be used for fruit. Cartons can be used for fragile fruits such as raspberries, bags for more robust products such as rhubarb or apple pieces and the overwrapped trays may be used for precooked fruit pies.
Fruit packaging technology

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