The study was conducted by the University of California, Davis and The University of Florida.
While a primary goal of the study is to find better ways to have produce with better quality and flavor delivered from the field to the kitchen shelf, transportation plays a key role in this.
Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. describes this as a “global process” where it must be considered that actions taken during the entire handling process can influence even the best varieties of product that end up in the hands of the consumer.
“The study confirms my private belief, plus our private research over the years,” he says. “If you do these processes correctly; cool it, transport correctly with good temperature control, with a CO2 atmosphere, you are going to deliver better fruit to the consumer.”
In the report, it details strawberry shipments with palletized loads covered with bags and carbon dioxide (CO2). The transcontential shipments compared the modified atmosphere shipments of CO2 West, PEAKfresh, PrimePro and Tectrol (TransFresh).
The results of the study may show why Tectrol is the dominant supplier of bagged, controlled atmosphere shipments out of California. Macleod says over half of the California harvested strawberries in California are shipped using the Tectrol process by TransFresh. California also grows and ships the vast majority of the nation’s strawberries.
The summary of the study’s findings probably explains why many strawberries look great when shipped and still are beautiful when displayed in your local supermarket. However, how many times have you purchased strawberries in the store and no sooner get home and notice quality problems occuring (a common experience with yours truely, the purveyor of this website)?
The study summarizes, “The Tectrol cover was sealed to the pallet base, a partial vacuum was applied, and pressurized CO2 gas was injected inside….CO2 concentrations within pallets at the beginning and end of transport were higher (11% to 16%) in the sealed Tectrol system and relatively low (.06% to .30% in the open CO2 West, PEAKfresh and PrimePro cover systems.”
Continuing, the report states, “The incident of fruit decay was low (1% to 1.4%) after transport, but increased substantially following a 2-day shelf life at 68 degrees. However, fruit from the Tectrol pallets exhibited significantly less decay (36%) after shelf life than the CO2 West (39%), non covered (pallets)(41%), PrimePro (42%) and PEAKfresh (43%).”
(This is Part 3 0f 5, featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)