Posts Tagged “in-transit”
While TransFresh Corp. devotes plenty of resources to preparing fresh berries for in-transit travel to destinations far and wide, it also has specialists at the docks to evaluate product when it is ready to come off the truck.
“We continue to be involved with tracking the product and how it is doing upon arrival,” states Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., known for its Tectrol® Service Network that provides covering for palletized product infused with CO2 (carbon dioxide), extending the quality of life for perishable items such as berries.
With of the projects of TransFresh is partnering with the Scotland based company, Insignia Technologies that manufactures temperature sensitive labels that go on cartons.
“What’s really intriguing about their technology is rather than it being a temperature switch, i.e., if a particular carton senses a temperature of 50 degrees F. or higher at anytime, it will change color,” Macleod observes.
For example if a carton of berries is unloaded off the truck at destination, and it is showing a little warmer temperature verses other cartons, it can be put another truck for faster store delivery before other product with cooler temperatures. The same theory applies even at the retail store level. If a produce manager sees a color change with a carton, he knows it should be put in a display case to be sold before other products.
“This can help maintain quality and reduce shrink with product, and the customer ‘experience'”, Macleod says. “So we have been doing a lot of work in this area to improve the technology. Lots of people are wanting to try it, but it is still in its infancy. It usually requires me, or one of my associates to be there for the testing. We’re probably another year away from announcing something on this.”
This research is unique, Macleod notes, because the visual color change with the carton reveals any “abuse” of the product, anywhere along the shipping point to destination.
“In the transportation (in-transit) portion, we’re going to give them (drivers) a lot of leeway. The color changes won’t be changing until the product hits the retail store,” Macleod says. “So this is a product we are working on and it is coming. I see a huge upside to that, because there are concerns about food safety and temperature. This may allow us to identify that random carton,” he concludes. — Bill Martin
(This is last of 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.)
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.)
The 2016 California strawberry market, evidenced by decreased acreage, an early fast pace and predicted volume resilience, bodes well for growers, shippers and retailers – especially those who protect their investment by choosing Tectrol during berry in-transit, according to Rich Macleod, director, TransFresh Corporation.
The California Strawberry Commission Acreage Survey for 2016 reports that total acreage is down due to increased pressures from production costs and regulators but that despite the downward shift, volume is predicted to be resilient and consumer demand strong.
“Now more than ever, growers, shippers and retailers must protect the quality of their berry products so that every pallet, tray and clamshell achieves the greatest return on investment possible,” said Macleod. The Tectrol Modified Atmosphere Packaging System is scientifically proven to significantly decrease decay during transit and on-shelf, delivering a strong level of protection beyond industry low temperature management to help ensure the quality and marketability of fresh berry products.
Macleod pointed to a peer-reviewed joint research study from the University of Florida and University of California / Davis that compared cross-country shipments of California strawberries. Researchers found that strawberries transported using the sealed Tectrol pallet cover system in which CO2 levels were consistently held demonstrated a significant reduction in decay and better quality on arrival and on-shelf compared to other methods.
“The advantage of decreased incidents of decay and decay severity has a direct correlation to revenue potential,” said Macleod. “The financial implications are stunning
when you consider the hundreds of thousands of strawberry pallets shipped during the season.” The TransFresh website, www.TransFresh.com, includes a calculator function that allows visitors to view the financial benefits they could realize when using Tectrol.
Throughout the postharvest shipping process, TransFresh also provides full-service technical and quality assurance support and productivity management through the Tectrol Service Network.
TransFresh is a pioneering and established global entity with nearly 50 years of experience in perishables transport. Tectrol® is the trademarked brand name for the TransFresh® family of proprietary modified and controlled atmosphere systems and processes developed and owned by TransFresh. The Tectrol Service Network™ services, markets and supports the Tectrol pallet and storage systems operations and technologies. Since inception, TransFresh’s innovations in packaging, equipment and sealing processes have established Tectrol as the industry standard. For more information, please visit www.transfresh.com.
About the University of Florida and University of California/Davis Research Study
The study, Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality during Transport, published in Hort Technology, August 2012, evaluated the efficacy of multiple different proprietary plastic pallet cover systems to maintain strawberry fruit quality during commercial shipment. The TransFresh Tectrol Modified Atmosphere system was one of those assessed. Non-covered pallets served as the control for the study. During the comparison, the different covers were placed over palletized California-harvested strawberries packed in vented plastic clamshells and cooled according to industry standards.
CO2 was injected into the sealed Tectrol pallet bag system according to TransFresh specifications. Pallet cover systems other than Tectrol remained open at the base and without the injection of pressurized CO2 prior to shipment. Six separate shipments of palletized fruit were transported to distribution centers in either Florida or Georgia, with transit times ranging from slightly over two to almost five days. After arrival, berry clamshell samples from each treatment were retrieved and evaluated for arrival quality. Samples were then held for an added two days at 68º F. to mimic post arrival distribution, after which, quality attributes were again assessed. Researchers concluded that “transporting fruit in the sealed Tectrol pallet cover system, in which CO2 concentrations were elevated at 11 to 16 percent, was most effective as it also significantly reduced decay development during subsequent simulated retail display.
When hauling the more perishable produce items such as strawberries, knowing your reefer unit, maintaining proper temperature and taking a pulp temperature at shipping point becomes even more critical. Doing things right results in delivering a better product to your customers, as well as reducing claims and load rejections.
These points are among some important findings in a study released last year, Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality During Transport. As the title indicates, the study compares modified air controlled strawberry shipments using carbon dioxide (CO2).
Following up on that report, HaulProduce.com had an extensive interview with Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. of Salinas, whose product Tectrol came out looking pretty darn good when compared with competing companies offering controlled atmosphere bags covering palletized loads of strawberries.
The project was a combined effort of the University of California, Davis and the University of Florida in conjunction with the USDA.
“What this (study) demonstrates is when you put a bag over the pallet, you are going to get some in-transit warming,” Macleod observes. “It doesn’t matter whether it is a Tectrol (application) or somebody else’s bag because the warming is about the same for all of them.”
Where Tectrol shined in the study was the quality of the berries upon arrival after the cross country hauls from California to the east coast.
But back to the issue of in-transit warming. Rich points out when a palletized load is entirely bagged, the driver has to account for warming when adjusting the refrigeration unit set points accordingly at a colder temperature than if the load were “naked.”
He says, “I believe you can run a fully bagged Tectrol load (of strawberries) at 30 degrees F. if your (reefer) unit is well calibrated and your unit was built within the past four years.”
However, realistically Macleod knows most drivers prefer a 36-degree F. setting. As they become more familar with these type of loads they find out one can drop the setting to 34 or even 32 degrees.
“They (drivers) should not have issues with warmer product, if it is bagged. And they should not have any issues with frozen product. There are a number of drivers that have been incredibly successful handling Tectrol loads at 32 degrees F., but they know their units inside out and have them calibrated. They know what the floors are and the coldest temperatures that unit will be. Thirty-two degrees is a reasonable compromise.”
Macleod stressed that even if the fruit has been properly pre-cooled, carriers have to realize those bagged pallets will increase the temperature.
In fact the study itself points out in shipments with non covered pallets, the clamshell packaged strawberries remained at 32 to 35 degrees F. However, pallets covered with bags resulted in the temperature increase of three to four degrees by the time it arrived at destination.
“The rise in temperature during shipments indicate the trailers were unable to maintain the recommended 32 degrees F….” the study states.
What can a driver do if the pallets are already covered with CO2 filled bags upon arrival at the dock?
Although it is too late for a visual inspection of what is being loaded by the driver, Macleod says, “a well run (shipping) company should allow the driver to take a pulp temperature and they (shipper) should provide tape to reseal that hole (made by the driver to take the pulp temperature). It is a common practice and shippers respect that.”
(This is Part 2 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.)
Too many receivers, and consumers are dissatisfied with the quality of this stone fruit and much of the fault may lie with what has happened prior to the produce trucker picking up the fruit.
Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA created the Fresh Produce Mixer & Loading Guide about 30 years ago and it still remains in demand from brokers, retailers and carriers needing accurate information regarding in- transit temperature settings and proper mixing of produce items in the same load.
For example, the guide recommends peaches be transported at 34 to 36 degrees F. and can be effectively shipped with many other fruit items and some vegetables.
“The temperature killing range for peaches is roughly 38 to 50 degrees F. Realistically, that is the (temperature) range where everything (in produce) is transported,” Macleod says.
He cites four specific factors which can hinder a good, quality arrival for peaches, even if the trucker maintains the proper temperature, has his reefer unit calibrated and trailer has features ranging from bulkhead, seals, and doors in good condition, among other things.
(1) Growers should not cross subliminal,or inadequate varieties of peaches and expect a good product.
(2) The peaches should not be harvested before they mature.
(3) After the peaches are harvested, there should be “intermitent” warming, where the fruit sets in a temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees F. for a day or so.
(4) Then the peaches should be cooled and packed with a pulp temperature of 36 degrees F.
“If you do all of these steps together, the probability is the quality is going to be pretty good,” Macleod states.
He says the peach growing and shipping industry is working to address these issues, but it often is easier said than done.
Obstacles or issues too often can waylay the best made plains. For example, due to weather factors, early variety peaches may end up overlapping with a later variety fruit. Another example deals with markets. A “hot” or high priced market for peach sellers may result in the product being picked before it is mature. Then suddenly there may be too many peaches on the market, the prices collapse and the product is held back with sellers hoping for better profits to be made.
Stone fruit held in storage or transported at the wrong temperature becomes “mealy or flavorless,” and turns brown on the inside, even though the outside of the fruit may look good.
“It’s called internal breakdown,” Macleod says.
About the time a produce operation may get all of the issues figured out, something may happen such as new managment coming in and the same old problems start all over gain. Meanwhile, the produce trucker may end up in the middle of a problem at destination that may not even be his or her fault.
(This is Part 1 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.)