Fresh blueberries travel to more remote markets

Blueberries are considered the latest superfood, attracting more health-conscious consumers than ever before. They’re full of immune supporting phytonutrients and antioxidants that deliver a nutrients. But that’s not the only reason for the phenomenal growth of blueberries in the global market. 

Visit Johnson Matthey's booth 3219 in Hall E at the upcoming PMA Expo,  to see the Xtend packaging technologies available for an assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. 



Larger quantities of these berries are now more readily available on supermarket shelves because growers are getting better at farming techniques. 

Blueberry season can now be extended to 12 months a year, with crop production beyond the customary growing zones of North America, Chile in South America and parts of Europe, to include new locations in both hemispheres. 

“The real challenge now is to ensure that blueberry shipments to distant destinations will arrive in pristine condition, enhancing the consumer experience and safeguarding retailers against unnecessary wastage.” 
Says Dr. Gary Ward, Johnson Matthey Technical Development Manager 

A blueberry legend is born: 
Although Xtend modified atmosphere/modified humidity and condensation control packaging has been used for sea shipment from Chile to China for several years, the first sea shipments of blueberries from Peru to Shanghai, China using Xtend in September 2017, resulted in a breakthrough for Peruvian exporters. 

Via Xtend packaging, there was proof that the fruit can travel from Peru to China in shipments of in excess of 35 days and still arrive in perfect condition, without exhibiting quality problems or deterioration. This fact has essentially helped develop an important new market for Peruvian exporters.

An export brief: 
The blueberry industry in Peru has grown exponentially at a rapid rate from an export volume of around 9,600 tons in 2015 to an expected volume of over 40,000 tons in 2017. Main markets have traditionally been the USA and Europe, however demands for Peruvian blueberries in Asia are rising. 

The ability to ship fresh blueberries to more remote markets such as China, Korea, Taiwan, etc., has become a major priority for many large Peruvian blueberry exporters. 

Putting freshness to the test:
Ivo Tunchel, Territory manager for StePac, South America, traveled to China to receive the first shipments of fresh blueberries from Peru. The condition of the fruit at arrival went beyond expectations.

"The blueberries arrived at Shanghai port in week 36 in excellent condition, with firm fruit, good bloom, good flavor and no trace of rot. There was no evidence of free water and /or condensation in any of the Xtend bags inspected at the destination.”

Developing better solutions: 
Talking about blueberries with Dr. Gary Ward, makes it easy to understand why StePac, fresh produce packaging innovators and wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Matthey PLC, puts so much stock in developing customised packaging solutions to meet their customer’s needs. Gary explains.

“As good as the standard Xtend packaging for blueberries was, we needed a solution that would tackle the problems of unstable temperatures that exist in certain supply chains, such as the open markets in China. For that reason, we turned to our R&D team to develop a more robust packaging solution specific to these needs.” 

“The Xtend upgrade packaging for blueberries has been specially engineered to tolerate temperature fluctuations and was extensively tested in commercial trials last year with impressive results. Blueberries shipped in the new packaging from Chile, consistently arrived at major Chinese market hubs, Guangzhou and Shanghai, in excellent condition; far outlasting fruit packed in competitor bags.”

Ivo Tunchel, reports that in all inspections, good condensation control and optimal gas compositions were maintained in the Xtend packaging. 

“Fruit visibility was outstanding and there was no evidence of fruit rot. Blueberries remained crunchy, sweet and were in excellent commercial condition, even after such a lengthy journey.”

For more information:
Johnson Matthey
StePac
Tel: +972 (0)4-612 3514
Mob: +972 (0)52-6097349 
www.stepac.com

Publication date: 10/19/2017


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