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"The future is now - longer shelf-life thanks to "active" packaging by Consorzio Bestack"

Not simple containers but clever packaging that maintains fruit and vegetables fresh for longer. 10% less waste for strawberries, 15% for apricots and 20% for nectarines. We are talking about the "active" packaging solutions of Consorzio Bestack, i.e. corrugated cardboard crates impregnated with slow release natural essential oils that counter produce perishability. Everything is fully organic, as vegetables already contain these essential oils as natural antimicrobials. Innovative containers for supermarkets, distributors and storage at home.

Watch the interview with Claudio Dall'Agata (video and photo by Cristiano Riciputi)

The perfect solution to reduce waste - if we only consider the three fruit categories on which Bestack carried out tests, it is estimated that around 115,000 tons of strawberries, apricots and nectarines could be salvaged in Italy alone, for a value of over €190 million. Just think about what would happen if this technology was to be applied to the entire fruit and vegetable sector - up to one billion Euro for 850,000 tons, i.e. around 10% of the produce consumed in a year.

An example of crate made "active" thanks to vegetable substances that protect the produce.

This new patented packaging solution, created with the help of the University of Bologna, was presented on 13th December 2013 at the Chamber of Deputies' press room. The event was attended by MP Gadda, who drafted Law 166/2016 against waste, MP Marco di Maio from the Committee of Constitutional Affairs, Piero Attorna, President of Consorzio Bestack and Comieco, Claudio Dall'Agata, Director of the consortium and Professor Rosalba Lanciotti from the University of Bologna..

Chamber of Deputies. Left to right: Marco Di Maio, Maria Chiara Gadda, Piero Attoma, Rosalba Lanciotti, Claudio Dall'Agata

"This project was developed on the basis of Law 166/2016. We are particularly committed to reduce food waste. The Law also applies to virtuous processes in the food and agricultural chain. Innovation is a significant challenge to tackle and Bestack, with the help of the University of Bologna, managed to achieve good results," stressed MP Marco di Maio.

Dall'Agata and Attoma holding active crates

Consorzio Bestack, which is part of GIFCO, was established in 2004 by the leading companies specialising in the production of packaging and corrugated cardboard for the fresh produce sector. It gathers nine members and represents over 95% of the Italian corrugated cardboard packaging production. 

"We are confiding in the sensitivity of President Gentiloni and Minister Marina for what concerns the implementation process." 

"We worked on this Law for two years to try and meet the needs of both the food and agricultural sector and the tertiary sector, in order to counter food waste and help redistribute overproduction," added Gadda. 

Researchers from the University of Bologna. Left to right Lorenzo Siroli, Rosalba Lanciotti, Francesca Patrignani

This law focuses on various topics, such as waste reduction in all production, processing, distribution and supply stages, collection and donation of food surpluses and the reduction of waste production promoting recycling and reuse.

"Research plays a vital role in reaching our goals. Packaging is essential to counter food waste," explained Gadda. The first research phase proved how the shelf-life of the produce placed in cardboard crates is two to three days longer. "Active" cardboard extends it by an additional 36 hours, so it is suitable also for fruit that is more ripe

"We started working with the University of Bologna five years ago and have already carried out numerous tests. In 2017, we will test all the various segments, one by one," reported Claudio Dall'Agata.

Chamber of Deputies on 13th December 2016

In just three months, 4,500 analyses have been carried out as well as 200 samplings on strawberries, apricots and nectarines in Agrintesa stores. Data concerning the freshness of produce over time, reduction of food waste and maintenance of organoleptic properties were examined. Tests were also carried out in markets, small retailers and e-commerce platforms.

"The essential oils in the packaging are natural anti-microbials and are the same elements that fruit uses to counter degeneration and micro-pathogens. These oils prolong the shelf-life of produce. Using active packaging helps reduce the probability of infections and contaminations, thus making the produce safer," explained Rosalba Lanciotti.

"We registered a waste reduction of 10% for strawberries, 15% for apricots and over 20% for nectarines. These figures are enough to grasp the potential of this innovation. During the first six months of 2017, we will also test the packaging with other products both in Italy and abroad. After presenting our product at Macfrut, feedback was very good from both operators and consumers."

"We are almost there. We tested the packaging a lot and, after the next few tests, the packaging will become available," added Piero Attoma.

Author: G.G. per FreshPlaza
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