Xtend® partners with EarthcycleTM

New packaging solution extends shelf life

CKF Inc., is a Canadian company providing food service and packaging products to customers throughout North America. One of the products that is manufactured by CKF is EarthcycleTM pulp fibre trays (Fig. 1), which are food grade trays that are recyclable, renewable and certified compostable to the BPI standard. The trays are also suitable for home compost environments. The Earthcycle trays support brands and retailers that want to show their consumers that they care about the environment.


Fig 1: EarthcycleTM pulp fibre trays manufactured by CFK packed with Bell Peppers

From the color, the look and feel of the material, through to its independently verified environmental credentials, Earthcycle products substantiate claims for environmental stewardship. Such trays are a perfect match for use with Xtend® modified atmosphere packaging. The prolonged shelf life achieved with the use of Xtend and Earthcycle, reduces the carbon footprint in instances where it allows customers to use sea instead of air freight for distribution. Extended shelf life also helps reduce waste in the supply chain. 

For some time now, Xtend has been used, together with Earthcycle trays, for green asparagus, supplied to Trader Joe’s by Gourmet Trading. Not only is this a very attractive display, but it couples compostable trays with shelf life extension technology. “In the three plus years that we have supported this program, we have had only compliments from both the grower and the retailer on the freshness of the product and the ease of packing” said Shannon Boase, Director of New Market Development for CKF. The asparagus has been shown to have a shelf life of 28 days when packed with Xtend and Earthcycle. 

StePac and CKF are exploring additional opportunities for combined use of their products. In one particular study, the potential use of Xtend packaging for avocados, together with Earthcycle trays, was tested at StePac’s postharvest lab.


Fig 3: Avocadoes packed in Earthcycle trays with Xtend AV53 packaging (left) and naked control (right) at T=0.

The study examined the ability of two types of Xtend modified atmosphere packaging (AV51 and AV53) to preserve the quality of avocadoes packed in Earthcycle trays (Fig. 3) during a simulated shipment, then facilitate ripening through the sealed bag and slow down ripening during subsequent distribution and shelf life.

During all stages of the study the combination of Xtend packaging and Earthcyle trays considerably reduced the weight loss of the avocadoes (Fig. 4).

However, the most significant difference between the Xtend treatments and control, was that during shelf life, the naked control fruit ripened much faster and was over-ripe after 7 days shelf life at 220C. The fast ripening of the control was reflected in the fruit taste, firmness and texture, color and shrivelling of the peel (Fig. 5-6). Xtend packed avocados had superior taste and texture after 4 and 7 days shelf life. The ability of the packaging to slow ripening and prolong shelf life of ripened fruit, is due to the modified atmosphere that develops within the packaging.





The positive results of this test prove that there is great added value in combining these innovative technologies together as an exciting packaging solution for retail outlets. Fuelled by the success of this partnership, CKF and StePac are continuing to explore the benefits of combining technologies for other fresh produce items.

For more information, please visit www.stepac.com.
 

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