From the field to the fridge, the precise temperature control of fresh produce is critical. Many growers and retailers take extreme care to ensure transportation and storage processes are working to maintain ideal temperatures, however some might not be aware that temperature can be significantly enhanced or compromised by the design of the containers used during shipping.
When put to the test, how would the freshness and shelf life for fruits and vegetables like melons, tomatoes, mushrooms, and grapes compare in IFCO RPCs versus single-use packaging? IFCO decided to find out by conducting a comprehensive shelf life study.
Researchers at Dr. Lippert Quality Management (formerly HortKinetix) have determined that IFCO RPCs preserved the freshness of the fruits and vegetables better than single-use packaging for many produce items. Ventilation provided by IFCO RPCs is key to maintaining proper cold chain temperature and moisture along the entire supply chain.
To conduct the shelf life study, IFCO selected commodities for testing based on its year-round availability and perishability. In the testing, tomatoes and mushrooms were harvested directly into IFCO RPCs or single-use packaging while grapes and melons were repacked at the wholesaler. The fresh produce was kept under chilled or ambient temperatures or both, depending on the product. For up to 19 days, the scientists used both non-destructive and destructive testing to evaluate outcomes daily on commodity-specific indicators for freshness, including color, vine health, shore value, weight loss, spoilage, infection, rot, mold, appearance, smell, Brix, and acidity.
The researchers concluded that fruits and vegetables packed in IFCO RPCs remained firmer, showed less mold, had fresher vines and stems, and that a higher percentage remained marketable. Here are excerpts from the findings:
Beyond keeping your produce fresher for longer, here are more ways RPCs can help bolster your supply chain over single-use packaging:
- RPCs will help you to implement additional cold chain best practices, including attention to field and packing sheds and maintaining temperature throughout the supply chain.
- RPCs provide better protection, ventilation, consume less water and produce 82% less solid waste.
- Switching to RPCs will help to reduce water usage. Single-use systems use more water during the production of new boxes (regardless of recycled content) and during the recycling and disposal phases. RPC systems will consume 92% less water through their use.
Interested in learning from our most recent shelf-life study finding? Our latest eBook and press release provide insights so you can transform your supply chain with IFCO RPCs in 2019. Click below to download it today.