Trials of an innovative Sirane wrapping with UK distributors have revealed double the shelf-life on produce including notoriously problematic brassicas.
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In the trials cauliflower and broccoli - which following transportation had been deteriorating after just one day on the shelves - was still in good condition after five days when using Sira-Flex™ Resolve®, Sirane’s unique new film for packaging fresh produce.
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The trials showed an additional two days shelf-life for cabbages, leeks and carrots. Sandra Evans, sales manager for fruit and fresh produce, said: “The results are very encouraging. The recent poor weather has heaped yet more problems on the fruit and vegetable industry – with numerous reports of poor yields. Increasing the shelf-life of the produce that is available could significantly help the situation.”
However, the real story could turn out to be in Australia. Early trials on green beans using Sirane’s Sira-Flex™ Resolve® showed an astonishing shelf-life extension of more than 20 days. Further, more extensive trials are now very much underway.
The film has been developed to have the optimum balance between humidity control and O2 and CO2 permeability. The permeability is temperature dependant so that the perfect atmosphere is maintained inside the pack even if the storage temperature is variable.
Simon Balderson, Sirane’s managing director, said: “These factors appear to have made a remarkable difference in the extreme conditions faced during transport in Australia. Long distances by road, in high temperatures, were leaving a short shelf-life.
“Initial tests using the film showed the produce had a remarkable shelf-life extension when compared with existing products. We await further trials with interest.”
Mr Balderson added: “There is no condensation on the inside of the film and the product does not dry out. The atmosphere is maintained with the optimum balance of atmospheric gases to prevent degradation. In simple terms, the food lasts longer.”
The film is a natural bio-polymer made from plants. It is sustainable and fully compostable. The permeability is controlled by the property of the film itself.
Due to the unique structure of the film material, the permeability to humidity, O2 and CO2 is different in each case. This has allowed Sirane’s team of scientists to balance the permeability of each component to achieve the optimum result.
Mr Balderson said: “This unique structure means we are getting some varied results on shelf-life extension. Because the results are very specific to the conditions, we are finding it difficult to advise on just what the shelf-life extension potential is.
“Where one person might get two days, another might get 10 days, as it depends so heavily on the various factors at play in relation to storage conditions and other variables.
“That is why we just invite people to run trials and assess the benefits for themselves.”
The results could lead to far less food being thrown away by customers and retailers. Mr Balderson said: “Shelf-life extension is the holy grail for the fruit and vegetable industry. A huge amount of food is wasted because it goes off before it is eaten.
“Using this film could reduce the amount of food waste and significantly reduce costs. We can also make it more likely that the consumer will get a quality product in good condition.”
Mr Balderson said the new technology has broken new ground – food will not dry out, there will be no ‘fogging’ within the pack, and no mould or bacteria growth.
Shelf-life is a particular issue within the international export business. Fruit and vegetables are shipped all around the world, many are grown in the hotter parts of the world - Spain, North Africa, Turkey, the Middle East, South and Central America. They are shipped to the UK, Northern Europe, Russia, the United States and elsewhere for consumption, often with only a few days shelf-life left when they arrive at their destination.
Sira-Flex™ Resolve® will be among the items on show at Fruit Focus, Kent, on July 25th.