AU: New ripening technology gets produce market ready faster

Researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a revolutionary new approach to fruit ripening. A research team has developed a way in which to encapsulate ethylene gas into powder. Just a small amount of the resultant product is capable of ripening large quantities of fruit during transit, shortening the time produce spends in the supply chain and reducing costs.

Currently certain fruits have to be sent for ripening after transit, the current price of which, in Australia, is in the region of $1-3 per carton.

"Late last year researchers used less than 100g of this powder to control ripen 20 tonnes of mangoes during a three day transit from Darwin to Adelaide," says Cameron Turner, of UniQuest, a University of Queensland commercial venture.

This meant that the mangoes were ripe and ready for sale 6 days in advance of those that not ripened in transit.

University of Queensland researchers Mr Binh Ho and Professor Bhesh Bhandari

Cameron says the product has four principal benefits:

"Fruit is ready for market quicker, the general quality is improved, costs are lowered and producers can supply direct to the retailer."

He further explained that University's product is unique, despite previous releases of ethylene powder.

"There are existing methods, but they are not commercially viable as the process take a long time, is difficult to scale up and has poor controlled release capability. UQ researchers have developed new methods of encapsulating ethylene into powder form and enabling production of commercial volumes."

UniQuest are in the process of forming a start up company to commercialise the powder under the brand name RipeStuff™. Over the next year small scale manufacture is planned so that the product can be trialled with potential customers. At a later stage more wide scale production is planned for wider circulation. It is estimated that the cost of usage will be significantly lower than current ripening room treatments.

For more information:
Cameron Turner
Tel: + 61 (0)437448773

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