Gian Piels owns the Dutch refrigeration company, Nedcool. He has wanted to investigate how to better protect pears from spoilage for some time. "Pears can be stored better. We want to see what substance chilled pears release."
"That's using new equipment and software developed by Environmental Monitoring Systems (EMS). We'll analyze the data and discern what does and doesn't contribute to the storability of Conference pears. That's along with staff from Wageningen University & Research (WUR)," Gian explains in the Fruitpact newsletter.
Nedcool has 84 cold stores. Conference pears are stored in most year-round. "We think Conference pears can be stored more sustainably. But the question is, how to optimize that. Fruitpact advised and supported us in applying for a subsidy to the Regional Investment Fund (RIF) for a study into this. The application was granted."
"This cooling season, we fitted all the cells containing Conference pears with the EMS-developed equipment. Previously, we only looked at how you can preserve pears using Ultra Low Oxygen. We monitored how much CO2 they released during (pre)cooling with low oxygen content. Now, we can accurately distinguish many more substances the pears excrete. That's thanks to the equipment developed by EMS," says Gian.
"We 'sniff' the pear and want to analyze the different gases it releases more precisely. In this way, we can see whether there is a certain substance/s that can tell us more about optimizing Conference pears' storability. The unique thing about this practical setup is that we monitor many cells simultaneously. That quickly provides a lot of data."
This practical/technical/scientific partnership is a multi-year project. "We want to collect and analyze data for at least three years. It has to be several years because you have to deal with, for example, different climatic conditions. We can find both positive and negative correlations between the emissions found in the pears and their storability. In the years that follow, we want to delve deeper. We want to investigate how we can steer the process. We'll look at which substances can be added and which are better left out."
"The research started this cooling season. But especially now, in the beginning, the measuring equipment must still be adjusted regularly. EMS invested heavily in developing the software and measuring equipment. We could help with the RIF contribution. Several EMS and WUR scientists act as sources of knowledge and analyze the data. We're curious what these pears will reveal. Why do those from one cold store stay greener? And those from another remain firmer? But it will be years before we'll know," Gian concludes.