Avocado packer and exporter Best Produce is located in Michoacán, Mexico, and the company exports their avocados all around the world. Silvia Sebastián shares: “We export to five continents and North America, Europe and Asia being our most important markets.” Because of the long transit times from Mexico to Asia and Europe, Best Produce has been working to find a shelf-life extending product to apply to their avocados.
“Since September 2020, we have been using Liquidseal on our avocados,” Sebastián says, adding: “While we have only been using Liquidseal for the past four months, we have seen good results so far – and are excited to see what the long-term results will be.”
Extending shelf-life and quality
The transit time for the avocados from Mexico to Europe or Asia is between 21 and 30 days, barring any delays. This past year, because of the pandemic, delays in logistics have become more and more common. “We’ve seen that because of the pandemic, the transit time can take up to 40 days sometimes, and that is just too long for the avocados. At that point, the transit takes up too much of the shelf of the avocado, and the quality is greatly reduced,” says Sebastián.
In the past four months of using Liquidseal, however, Sebastián has been able to see good improvements in the shelf-life of the avocados. “We have estimated an extension of shelf-life of approximately 5-7 days. This has helped the avocados arrive in better conditions, with longer shelf-lives upon arrival and with higher quality too. We see less of the common problems that can occur such as chafing, black spot, or stem rot,” she explains. Ernst van den Berg of Liquidseal adds: “It’s important to note that the producers and packers need to ensure that the fruit starts off with high quality, and then Liquidseal works to maintain that. We always say that good quality is made in the field and Liquidseal helps to maintain the high quality for longer.”
Higher demand from buyers
Due to the benefits of Liquidseal, Best Produce has been seeing that their customers are more satisfied with their product. “Since we’ve only been using it for the past four months, we can’t really make claims about long-term demand yet,” Sebastián says. “But, because the product has been arriving with a longer shelf-life and a higher quality, the customers have been very happy. In the long-term, we expected that customers will increase their preference for our product, which will result in higher sales,” she adds.
In addition to the higher satisfaction from buyers, Best Produce is also benefiting because they have less waste. “Usually when we ship our product and the customer notices any defects, they reject the shipment, and we lose the product. But in the past four months we have seen lower numbers of rejection than we saw during the same period last year,” Sebastián shares.
Latin America branch helps Liquidseal expand
Liquidseal is applied to the fruit by either spraying the fruit or dipping it into Liquidseal. According to Sebastián, the process of applying Liquidseal isn’t difficult, though they are still working on finding the most efficient application method. “So far, we have been applying it manually, with a sprinkler to each piece of fruit separately, which is quite time consuming, but we are working on finding a better solution,” she says. Van den Berg adds: “Liquidseal works closely with our customers to find the best solutions for application. We look at their post-harvest line and from there we recommend to the customer where to implement Liquidseal and the best method or machinery for doing so. Each packline is different, so we make specific and personalized recommendations.”
Because Liquidseal has a branch in Mexico, they are able to work closely with their customers there. “It has been very helpful to have the company present here in Mexico, because they are able to come to our packinghouse, teach the workers the process in their own language and the workers are able to ask questions at any time and receive prompt response,” Sebastián says. Van den Berg agrees that improved communication has been one of the most important benefits to come from the branch. “It is immensely helpful to have a local person on our team who knows the people and the market,” he says.
Additionally, the proximity of the branch to the customers helps them to provide the product with faster turnover time: “We have stock available in Mexico. If we didn’t it could take up to six weeks for the customer to get the product they ordered,” says van den Berg. Finally, local branches are immensely helpful to the company to help secure the regulations. “While we have general certifications that come from clusters of countries, we also need local certifications in each country. Having a branch on the ground in that country has been very helpful in that process. Liquidseal is now approved in most of the big and important exporting countries,” van den Berg concludes.