Posts Tagged “raspberries”

In-Transit Issues – Part V: How Safe are Modified Atmosphere Shipments?

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TF_Chart1_v2While studies have shown transporting strawberries and some other produce items in a modified atmosphere  extends the quality and lifespan of the items, how safe are these food items to eat that have been exposed to carbon dioxide (CO2) for nearly a week?

Rich Macleod, a scientist and basically the manager of the pallet divison for Transfresh Corp. feels this is a reasonable question for people to ask.

“The use of carbon dioxide in the handling of perishables is incredibally common,” Macleod states.  He points to the use of CO2 in soda, which are the bubbles you see.

As for TransFresh, Macleod says  the Organic Material Research Institute has certified the Tectrol application as organic.  “So we are certified for use as an organic product,” he states.  “The impact of CO2 in terms of maintaining the quality of the product….using a gas we breath in the environment, is an excellent trade off for what you get for enjoying more strawberries.”

As previously reported in this series, using the pallet covered system, Tectrol (CO2), results in less decay in strawberries (see chart). 

Macleod, who started out as a lab assistant with a masters degree in post harvest science, sees the next step in research being to define what CO2 does for the nutrient value of strawberries.  Such a study has never been done, he notes.  He is hopeful such research will take place within the next five years.

While Tectrol’s primary use is with strawberries, it also is used with raspberries, blueberries and other items.

However, it also is found in containers on shipments by boat with items such as avocados, asparagus, and stone fruit for both imports and exports that are in transit eight to 10 days.

“Your cut salads are all cousins to the wrapped pallet program (with modified atmospheres).  In fact, the cut salad program preceeded the pallet covered program,” Macleod says.

(This is Part 5 0f 6, 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.)





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Berries Increasing Popularity with Consumers Highlighted in Report

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Strawberries continue to be a favorite of consumers, as well as other berries ranging from raspberries to blueberries and blackberries.  The popularity of each continues to increase.  The fruit not only is tasty, but healthy.

The agricultural lending company Rabobank sees retail berry sales continuing to incrase by seven percent annually for the next three years.


Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory group recently released a report, titled “The U.S. Fresh Berry Boom — Who Will Profit from the Growth?”

No surprising is the report notes California will continue to be the leading producer of fresh berries for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  Sharpest gains in recent years have been with strawberries and blueberries.

California produces 88 percent of the country’s fresh strawberries and significant portions of fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Florida is also a significant producer of fresh berries.

During the fall and winter months strawberry and blueberry importes from Mexico and Chile compete directly with Florida’s season.  Chile now accounts for over 50 percent of imported blueberries.

Consumers are now purchasing more berries that been grown south from British Columbia and continuing all the way south along the coast to Chile.  This shift will continue following seasonal patterns, but also seeing increased volume in the more southern regions.

Over the past five years, California has shown tremendous growth in strawberry production the past five years.  In 2008, the state produced 114 million cartons of strawberries, which grew to 181 million cartons in 2010.  In 2011, volume actually slipped to 178 million cartons but this year,  but in 2013, the total volume should be in the 190 million carton range.

The majority of those gains come from increased yields.  California’s strawberry acreage totalled 36,519 acres in 2008, but was down to 37,732 acres this year.

It is a different story for blueberries. Worldwide statistics show total world acreage of blueberries has grown significantly over the years.  It has quadrupled in the past 15 years and now sits near 200,000 acres with most of that being in North and South America.  The Americas represent close to 80 percent of the world’s blueberry acreage and production.

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Good Retail Buys: Berries, Grapes and Apples

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Some of the most reasonably price fruit items in local supermarkets now are strawberries, raspberries and grapes.   Apples will be an interesting item to watch this fall.

Strawberries have been a frustrating item at best this summer.  No one likes to waste their hard earned dollars on something that doesn’t have the taste or durability (shelf life).  My purchase of strawsberries have been all over the board, ranging from good (not great) to very disappointing.  I tend to think labels or brands can be a bit over rated.  A top brand may or may not be better than a generic fruit or even a lesser known brand.  However, this year I have found Discroll brand strawberries have been more consistently good.  My big disappointement has been with the Red Blossom brand.  More often than not, it has left me wishing I’d left it on the supermarket shelf.

The fall strawberry crop out of California is projected to stronger this year, and growers are predicting improved quality and flavor through August and September.  I hope they are right!

Another favorite of mine are raspberries.  Even with the Driscoll brand, “razz” is so perishable you really need to check the clamshell package for excessive moisture from the berries — and for mold.  Still, no one does a better job with raspberries than Driscoll.

Table grapes from California’s San Joaquin Valley are available and a possible record setting crop is translating into attractive retail prices.  Just bought some red grapes and the high sugar content makes them oh so sweet!

Finally, apple lovers are looking forward to the new crop which is now arriving at stores.  On July 20 hail storms did some significant damage to some orchards in Washington state.  Still, there will be plenty of apples because Washington was poised to have a historic crop.  Even though the weather damage may reduce the crop by as much as 25 percent, it was so huge, that there will still be plenty of the fruit.

Something to keep in mind.  Some orchards were hit much harder than others.  To save as much of their crop as possible, you could be seeing some “high grade” bags of apples in your stores.  This is simply a fancy name for some fruit that is less than fancy.  It is apples that have some “dimples” from minor hits by hail.  These dimples will turn brown and have a russetted look.  They should have a lower price because they aren’t as “pretty,” although the eating quality should still be fine.


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Caution Needed in Loading Salinas Lettuce

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There have been some reports of “fringe burn” on lettuce being shipped out of California’s Salinas Valley.  This results from an exceptionally windy summer where the leaves are damaged from the wind and debris that is blown.  While all lettuces have been affected to a certain degree, it appears to be more prominent with romaine and romaine hearts.

Otherwise, the Salinas Valley has had great weather this summer, with many days being under 70 degrees F.  This is quite a difference from the “roasting” much of the USA is experiencing.  Just take a little extra time inspecting the lettuce being loaded on your truck, and make sure your receiver(s) know what is being delivered and have any defect information written on the bill of lading.

There also are reports of some large Iceberg lettuce that is overripe.  This occurs when product is left in the fields too long before harvesting.


California continues on track for possible record shipments of strawberries.  The state has been running about 13 million trays ahead of this same period a year ago.  The record is 181.3 million trays.  The heaviest volume of a long season for shipping California strawberries is coming to a close.  Shipments typically decline in August and into the fall.

Once again, here is a reminder to be extra cautious if you are hauling highly perishable berries this time of year, because of the extreme heat occuring in many parts of the USA.  Please check out the in transit warming information on the TransFresh ads found on this website. 

Besides strawberries out of the Watsonsville district, California also is shipping raspberries and blackberries.  There should be decent supplies for hauling over at least the next couple of months.

Salinas Valley produce – grossing about $5500 to Cleveland.

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