The ban on the sprout inhibitor CIPC is getting closer. For those in Belgium it will be a reality on June 30 this year and in the Netherlands, the substance can still be used until October 8. Many industry associations warn that the ban will have a major impact on potatoes and onions. There are alternatives for the storage, but it was not yet available for transport. Until the American company PurFresh started talking to a flower bulb grower.
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A flower bulb grower? You read that right. The grower in question was looking for a solution to prevent the germination of his flower bulbs during transport and ended up at PurFresh. This company offers ozone panels and CA (Controlled Atmosphere) panels, which slows down the germination process in the container.
"The company had its focus on the export of fruit from South America, such as mangoes, bananas and blueberries," says Joyce Boezaard-Klapwijk, sales manager for the European market at PurFresh. “In the conversation with this customer in the Netherlands, we found out that there was also a demand for these solutions for exports from Europe to overseas destinations, especially in potatoes and onions. We have carried out a number of tests to see if this could make a difference, but the product is ready for use and could be a nice alternative to sprout inhibitors in transport that will soon be prohibited. Moreover, ozone is a natural means and therefore organic.”
The panel is mounted on the back of the reefer
Ozone and CA storage in the reefer
PurFresh works with ozone that is injected into the reefer container. “We do this via a panel that we, as a company, install in the reefer container,” says Joyce. “In addition to the injection of ozone that affects the atmosphere in the reefer, we also offer a second panel, the CA option including ozone. This also makes it possible to adjust the temperature and CO2 level in the container to the customer's wishes. On top of both panels, we also offer container tracking that is connected to these two panels. This makes positioning more accurate than the shipping company platforms and allows us to adjust the panel settings from a distance if necessary.”
99% of fungi and bacteria killed
Using ozone offers other benefits, according to Joyce. “Ozone kills over 99% of all bacteria and fungi in the container. Imagine that you have a mouldy potato in your load. Under normal circumstances, that fungus spreads in the container and your entire load is ruined. With the ozone panel, however, the damage is limited to that one potato. It is therefore not surprising that this natural remedy is now also widely used in the fight against coronavirus. It is important that the container is left closed with the use of this panel until it reaches its destination, otherwise the injected ozone escapes from the container.”