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Denmark: Fresh cut consortium find shelf life solutions

The Innovation Consortium For Product Designed Packaging of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (Innovationskonsortium for Produkttilpasset pakning af frisk frugt og grønt) is a Danish consortium that has been carrying out research and development into factors affecting the quality and shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables. The purpose of this innovation consortium is develop new knowledge, methods and techniques and translate those for practical application in the industry. The goal is to provide the industry with new tools to make them able to provide fresh fruit and vegetables with high-value, high eating quality and low wastage in the distribution chain. 

The consortium has been running since autumn 2008 and it is set to conclude in January 2013. The work the consortium is financed by the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation and a number of private companies.

Private companies are involved i.e. the Danish Horticultural Advisory Service (GartneriRådgivningen) suppliers of packaging (Scanstore Packagaging and NNZ Denmark), instrument development companies (PBI Dansensor, Multivac and AGA), a retailer (COOP) and number of growers and processors of fresh produce.
Aarhus University, Department of Food Science and The Danish Technological Institute are involved as knowledge and innovation partners.

The consortium was formed after inspiration from Merete Edelenbos, Aarhus University, who works at the university with postharvest biology and technology. She noticed that fresh produce was often improperly packaged and that was harmful for purchase and consumption.

Hanne Kastberg, from Danish Technological Institute (DTI), discusses the origin of the project. "It also started with DTI having developed a mathematical model for predicting the gas concentration in packagings of fresh fruit and vegetables dependent on the packaging material (including laser-perforated materials). The Institute and university believed that quality and shelf life of packaged fresh produce could significantly be improved by tailoring the packaging material to the produce. As fresh produce, by its very nature, still respire and hence need a very low barrier packaging material. The packaging material must allow a certain amount of oxygen to pass through the material to avoid anaerobic respiration. In comparison with other packaged food products on the supermarket shelves, fresh produce are some of the very few products where a low barrier material is needed as most others products prefer high barrier materials. Packaging of fresh fruit and vegetables is a challenging task as the oxygen consumption rate depends on the product, the temperature, the handling and packaging technology. Therefore, all partners in a food chain would benefit from cooperating on packaging of fresh fruit and vegetables. Cooperation is also core issue for the consortium where all parts of the food supply chain are represented”.
Througout the project period consortium's findings have been disseminated on workshops that were open for the industry. Additionally a final conference is scheduled for the 8th of January 2013. At the workshop efforts will be on transferring knowledge into innovation in the industry.
Consortium parties have been involved by using hands on in:   

  • Sensory evaluation and simplifications of quality control in the chain
  • measurements of respirations rates and factors affecting the respiration rate
  • Cooling and the impact of temperature on postharvest quality
  • Optimized packaging

For more information:
Name: Hanne Kastberg
Danish Technological Institute
Tel: +45 7220 2820

Publication date: 8/31/2012
Author: Ben Littler
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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