Brazil: New system for banana ripening by controlled atmosphere rooms
“The Brazilian banana production is purely for the domestic market. The domestic prices are beneficial as there is sufficient demand. Since 2016 we have ripened bananas in controlled atmosphere chambers. We always look for new technologies for our fruits, since we know that better fruit will result in better sales and less waste”, says Sandro Cypriani from Frutas Fava in Brazil.
He explains that this started in the year 2010, when they searched for new gas sensors in Europe. “In Brazil there is only a small offer of these sensors, because of high prices due to the high taxes. Specialized companies in Brazil end up not willing to invest in this, as sales volumes would be low in relation to the high investment costs. Therefore, we decided to look elsewhere in the external market. That’s when we met a distributor in the Netherlands, who used hermetic chambers for air conditioning.”
“We live in a sustainable world, so we started thinking about the high energy consumption we have, in order to cool the chamber every time it opened. Also the need to reduce the CO2 inside the chambers and the amount of ethylene that would have to be restored each time. We started the research of having a controlled atmosphere, with CO2 absorbers, humidity, oxygen, ethylene and temperature -control inside the chamber”, continues Sandro.
He mentions that having high ethylene content with a high temperature inside the chambers makes the fruit more acidic. “We then began to study where this occurred and how we could automate the systems with the data collected over the years, as we've been active in banana distribution since the 1970s. The banana is a climacteric fruit and therefore the ripening process continues after harvesting. As soon as the fruits breathes again, this process can be stimulated.”
That’s when they started the work with the newest technology for ripening and fruit storage rooms with insulation panels, ammonia free cooling system, gas absorbers, filters, temperature sensors, humidity enhancing nebulizers, and curtains. “This all together turned into a sustainable system with lower energy consumption and less waste. We noticed that the fruits have a lighter pulp, higher Brix levels, the acidity level decreased and the pulp remained firm longer. Another benefit, is that we are able to have the fruits in the chambers for a longer period. Besides, the 5 days that we use for the ripening, we can keep the fruits in atmosphere controlled chambers.”
“Today we have 42 rooms, of which 18 have this new system. This year we started the transformation of the remaining rooms. Our customers see the result of our investments on the shelves. We have a more uniform colouring in the fruit and a longer shelf-life. This made it possible to offer bananas to our final consumers in a colour closer to their preferences, concludes Sandro.
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Publication date: 3/2/2018
Author: Kelly den Herder
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