Innovative solution to the problem of 'sweaty kiwifruit'

A Te Puke packhouse has found an innovative solution to the industry-wide problem of 'sweaty' kiwifruit; a problem that arises when gold kiwifruit are taken out of temporary cold storage to be labelled and packed.

Because the outside air is warmer, condensation forms on the skin of the fruit, causing it to "sweat" and making attaching a label a tricky affair. And while that might not sound like such a big deal, it's caused headaches all over the industry.

Carol Ward, chief innovation and sustainability officer at Zespri, says labels on the fruit are a must. "All Zespri Kiwifruit that we export from New Zealand is required to be labelled," Ward told Newshub.

In fact, kiwfruit labelling requires a 90 percent stick-rate for the export market, otherwise the fruit will be rejected at their final destination. Ward admits the labelling can be complicated for packhouses but says clear labelling plays an important role in alerting consumers to what product they are looking at.

The problem only affects gold kiwfruit and not green, as gold lacks the fur which helps labels stick to it. The solution is to put the fruit in cold storage until it can be graded, packed and labelled in the packhouse. But the problem with the gold fruit is it's got a smooth skin and moisture forms on the fruit, so the labels will not stick.

Jackson Engineering tried to develop the technology to fix the problem. They created a system that created an environment in the packing hall where it's a very, very dry environment. This means the kiwifruit can be taken out of cold storage and handled and graded and the labels put on in an environment that's so dry that they won't sweat - there's no moisture in that environment at all. There's insufficient moisture in the environment to allow them to sweat and then the labels stick.

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