Berries have always posed one of the higher risks for produce truckers because of in-transit perishability. However, because of research and technology the chances of a retailer being pleased with quality upon arrival at the dock are much better. That can mean fewer problems for the driver at destination.
TransFresh Corp. of Salinas, CA has been at the forefront for decades in studying ways to extend the shelf life of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, among other items.
Some of the technology research at TransFresh is resulting from the way strawberries are now being marketed, Rich Macleod of the company relates. Just take a look in the produce department at your local supermarket and chances are you’ll see more two-pound and four-pound strawberries in clamshell packaging being promoted, with less emphasis on one pounders.
At the same time, raspberries, which are among the most perishable of berries, has been receiving extra attention.
“We still need to learn how to correctly ship raspberries. At TransFresh we’ve had to make adjustments a couple of times for shipping raspberries,” Macleod releates. Much of that learning process relates to the Tectrol program where palletized fruit is sealed in a bag with CO2 (carbon dioxide) that slows product deterioration and extends the life of the product.
“Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries all use the same common denominator,” Macleod observes. “But what happens is we customize the pallet bag we put on each product. So at the time the strawberry pallet or raspberry pallet moves across our conveyors (at the packing house), the people (working there) approve a bag (for shipping).”
Much of that approval is based on the color of the palletized bag, which determines on which load the product will be shipped.
For example, raspberries may be in a green bag, strawberries in a red bag, etc. Additionally, all the bags are numbered.
Macleod adds, “There is some sophistication even among the colors of the bags. The two pounders (clamshell packs) have a different color from the four pounders and one pounders. We are always training the operators of the machines for the pallets, which bags to select.” — Bill Martin
(This is Part II in a III-Part series based on an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp, Salinas, CA. He has been with the company 40 years and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)