Jose Miguel Gomez Moreno, a researcher in Food Science and Technology of the National University of Colombia (UNAL), has developed a mathematical model that determines the shelf life of a minimally processed pineapple based on various storage, temperature, and concentration of gases data. This tool will allow configuring suitable packaging conditions for the sliced fruit, according to the specific needs of the market.
Currently, minimally processed products - that is, that have received small interventions, such as peeling and slicing - are packaged and their shelf life is calculated empirically, based on the experience of producers and marketers.
To achieve a more precise measurement, the researcher carried out an investigation with sliced fruit packaged in trays that were covered with different films. This allowed him to obtain the variables of respiration and perspiration of the pineapple slices depending on the temperature, relative humidity, and the geometric configuration of the fruit to determine the changes in firmness, color, and other physical-chemical properties that the fruit has throughout the storage time, so as to represent the fruit's shelf life based on these variables and quality properties.
The effectiveness of this tool is measured by calculating how the predictive mathematical model adjusts to the actual conditions of the pineapple through a coefficient of determination, which acquires values on a scale of 0 to 0.99, the latter being the best result, according to the degree of concordance. The lowest coefficient calculated during the study was 0.83, "which means that, within the storage and packaging conditions we work with, it can be used for different predictions," the researcher stated.
Pineapple is one of the most appreciated tropical fruits in the world for its flavor, aroma, juiciness, texture, and for its excellent nutritional content.
Despite being one of the 10 biggest pineapple producers in the world, Colombia exports less than 1% of its production, and 95% of its exports are of fresh pineapples, according to Colombia's Agricultural Sector Information and Communication Network, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The development of new packaging and storage technologies to market this fruit - maintaining or increasing its shelf life and quality properties - would increase economic gains for the producers that live from this crop.
Source: UN / DICYT / noticiasdelaciencia.com