Berry consumption continues to go up globally and the different varieties are still gaining popularity. On the flipside however, the sensitive fruit category is faced with a relatively high share of spoilage. “The combination of high demand and high spoilage provided us with the opportunity to extend our mission of extending shelf-life into a space that could really benefit from more packaging innovations,” says Teresa Scattini, VP MAP Technology at Hazel Technologies. As a result, the company entered the berry vertical in 2021, following its strategic acquisition of the Breatheway brand.
“Breatheway is a breakthrough modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) that can actively regulate the gas ratio of O2 and CO2 within the package to maintain the best atmosphere for the contents it is protecting.”
15-30% more marketable fruit
The biggest differentiator in Breatheway is the proprietary “Temperature Switch” membrane technology. The packaging is built on the understanding that each berry variety thrives in its own ideal atmospheric ratios of O2 and CO2. Breatheway membranes are engineered and calibrated to those specific beneficial ratios. “The membranes register when gas levels are askew, actively inhaling the appropriate amount of O2 and exhaling the right percentage of CO2.” This allows for the berries to maintain the optimal atmosphere over transit times and through unexpected events, like cold chain breaks. “It results in an extended shelf-life, 15 – 30 percent more marketable fruit, as well as an improved consumer experience.” While the membranes may just look like a sticker on the side of a shipping bag, they are packed with sophisticated technology.
Currently, Hazel partners with one of the largest berry growers/marketers in the world and provides the Breatheway exclusively for their raspberries. In addition, the packaging makes a big difference in preserving the freshness and weight of blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Because of the difference it makes, Breatheway has become Hazel’s flagship solution for berries.
In a recent trial, Breatheway-treated raspberries maintained the target levels of O2 and CO2, even after a shift in temperature to 45°F. “On average, we found that Breatheway-treated raspberries had 16.3 percent more marketable fruit on Day 4 compared to the control,” said Scattini. “On Day 11, they had 24.7 percent marketable fruit, resulting in an overall average of 44 percent fewer quality issues and improved visual appearance, providing more marketable fruit.”
Geographic as well as product extension
Breatheway is available in the US, Europe, Africa, Mexico, and Peru. “Next year, significant resources are going to be channeled towards the product’s growth across Latin America,” shared Scattini. Beyond geographic expansion, Breatheway has plans around product extension, exploring new crop compatibility and packaging formats. “While the packaging has proven its efficacy in the berry space, we’re seeing a lot of potential outside of berries as well,” she commented. “While berries are the number one crop for Breatheway now, we could expand into cucumbers or even bananas.”