Posts Tagged “Tectrol”
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.)
Among the most perishable produce items refrigerated haulers transport are berries. But a produce trucker’s risk of a claims or rejected load at destination is certainly reduced thanks to TransFresh Crop., the widely recognized leader of in-transit, pallet modified atmosphere service.
The Salinas, CA based company, now approaching its 50th year of operation, offers fully automated pallet service systems which tailor the specific atmosphere mixture for each pallet unit. Benefactors of TransFresh’s Tectrol® Service Network range from shippers, to truckers, receivers, and ultimately the consumer. It is a process whereby pallets of berries are sealed with bags and infused with CO2 (carbon dioxide), a process that extends shelf life of the fruit.
Rich Macleod of TransFresh says the Tectrol process continues to dominate the market share in the produce industry, but says there will always be competition.
“If you want the modified atmosphere or the CO2 blanket for your berries at retail, it has got to be sealed and it has got to be at the right (CO2) level,” he states.
TransFresh has a group of technicians conducting inspections at retail operations upon delivery of some loads.
“We are pretty unique in this area. The driver shouldn’t be too surprised to see a technician standing at the back of his trailer taking readings of the atmosphere,” Macleod says.
Feedback from produce truckers is appreciated by the technicians and those drivers appreciate what is being done, once the process is explained to them, he notes.
Still, there are challenges. For example, there may be turnover at retail and a new produce buyer may be looking to cut costs, or a new strawberry salesman may be wanting to increase profit margins. However, Macleod says if part of that decision involves not using the controlled atmosphere bags on the pallet, that retailer is not going to get the pay back he expects.
If you haul California strawberries, perhaps you have noticed some consolidations with some companies and down sizing of operations by others. Strawberry growers have been faced with increasing production costs and there has been a trend to focus more on growing raspberries, blueberries, etc.
At the same time, Macleod believes a few of the larger berry shippers who have successful marketing programs, appear to be doing quite well. — Bill Martin
(This is Part I 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.
A key to success is the advancement and modernization of equipment, whether talking long haul trucking or in this case, the machines that ready pallets with trays of strawberries, protected by the Tectrol CO2 process.
Tectrol is a patented process held by TransFresh Corporation in Salinas, CA.
TransFresh has what it calls a modified squeeze which effectively allows the company to increase the productivity of its conveyor system at packing facilities. Now research is being conducted to use the squeeze system in the field, according to Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division, for TransFresh.
“An older model can produce 45 to 55 pallets per hour across that machine,” Macleod says. “With the double down version, we’ve significantly modified the squeeze portion. We’ve also added mechanisms that square the pallet. We’ve changed the conveyor roll on so they are able to produce 55 to 65 pallets per hour.”
Continuing, Macleod notes there also are programs allowing machine operators to stop and back up the pallets on the system when trouble shooting is needed. This allows the problem to be quickly addressed.
In general, it (the system) is faster. So all of this is good for the produce haulers. The boxes on the pallets are more squared than ever and this reduces chances of shifting (of the load) even more. It also protects the strawberries, providing a better seal. Perhaps most important is it helps to speed loading onto the truck, reducing the wait times at the dock by the drivers,” Macleod says.
In 2014 TransFresh Corporation introduced the Tectrol Storage Solution utilizing BreatheWay Technology by California produce company Apio to provide more reliable storage for fresh blueberries. While the produce trucker hauling these berries may never see the process, that driver should benefit from it.
Rich Macleod, TransFresh vice president, pallet division, based in Salinas, CA, says, “There’s a reason we call it a storage solution….blueberry growers store their blueberries (in a controlled atmosphere bag) prior to shipping. The storage bag is removed before being shipped.”
He adds the bag is dynamically different from modified atmosphere for which TransFresh has built a name with strawberries.
Macleod points out blueberries after harvest are sometimes stored as long as four to six weeks as a way of balancing the market.
“To the driver that means that load will be available on a scheduled basis,” Macleod relates. “For example, he will know he needs to be in the Northwest every Tuesday to pick up six pallets of blueberries. It won’t be this frantic thing like picking up and delivering strawberries or cherries.”
Additionally, Macleod sees the Storage Solution as reducing the chances of quality problems at destination, which could lead to claims or deductions from the freight rate.
“When the market is orderly, that’s good for everybody,” he says.
Looking to the future, Macleod notes they are starting to solve the blueberry storage solutions for international transportation. If the shipper is an exporter, when those berries are loaded into a 40-f00t sea van, the product is placed in a controlled atmosphere. He also sees the day when this could be applicable for blueberries and other items being imported to by US companies from countries such as Chile and Peru.
“I don’t see this replacing containers,, but it could certainly impact the number of containers used. I see them being used side by side,” he says.
In the controlled atmosphere systems there is a device that records the atmosphere for the entire container. However, Macleod sees this being cost prohibitive to something like that in each pallet. However, there is research being conducted in this area.
TransFresh® Corporation of Salinas, CA has announced that usage has expanded for its high velocity Tectrol® application systems, recently placed in multiple cooler locations ahead of peak Strawberry production, increasing efficiency and throughput for berries bound for US and Canadian markets.
According to TransFresh, the specialized equipment systems facilitate the proficient application and sealing of poly sheeting in a seamless and reliable operation, meeting significantly higher demand for Tectrol. TransFresh and its Tectrol Modified Atmosphere Packaging systems are best known industry-wide for adding a level of protection to help ensure the quality and marketability of fresh berry products throughout the supply chain.
Every step of the Tectrol process is happening simultaneously with the high velocity systems: gripping and lifting pallet cartons to apply bottom sheeting, installing and sealing bags and adding beneficial atmospheres to immediately trigger the slowing of senescence.
According to Rich Macleod, vice president, TransFresh, the high-performance method substantially increases the number of Tectrol pallets processed per hour, increasing the total volume of Tectrol strawberries that move through each cooler facility. “In sum,” he stated, “the TransFresh investment in research, equipment development and installation has resulted in greater efficiency and throughput as well as enhanced sealing efficacy.”
Macleod further stated that the continuing strong interest in Tectrol Modified Atmosphere Packaging systems was spurred by a comprehensive research initiative conducted by two leading academic postharvest departments under the US Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Project with the mission to increase the consumption of specialty crops, such as strawberries, through enhanced quality and safety. Under the project, teams from the University of California at Davis and the University of Florida jointly evaluated the efficacy of pallet cover systems to maintain strawberry fruit quality during commercial shipment. Findings concluded that “transporting strawberries in the sealed TransFresh Tectrol pallet cover system in which CO2 concentrations were elevated at consistent levels was most effective in complementing low temperature management practices to reduce decay and maintain fruit quality.” The research, Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality during Transit (HortTechnology, Aug. 2012), also concluded that after a two-day shelf life, fruit from the Tectrol pallets achieved “significantly less decay” than other systems evaluated.
Macleod concluded that the development and installation of the high performance equipment system at these multiple cooling locations is the result of TransFresh’s commitment to support the berry trade as a whole by fulfilling its fundamental mission to protect berry quality.
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 systems operations and technologies. Since inception, TransFresh’s innovations in packaging, equipment and sealing processes have established Tectrol as an industry standard. For more information, visit www.transfresh.com.
Salinas, CA – TransFresh® Corporation reports that its custom tailored Tectrol® Storage Solutions for fresh blueberries has gained strong acceptance by the Grower-Shipper community following its fall 2014 debut.
TransFresh’s unique Tectrol Storage Solutions was launched following a multi-year research and development initiative and features Apio’s patented BreatheWay® Breathable Membrane Technology married with an easy-to-use zipper-sealed pallet system.
Tectrol Storage Solutions’ distinctive zipper-sealed all-in-one pallet bag ensures a secure seal with easy, efficient single-zip operation. It features a careful adaptation of Apio’s patented BreatheWay® Technology, creating an adjustable breathability to manage just the right rate of oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer required by the fruit.
According to TransFresh, the breakthrough sealing process delivers to customers an easy storage solution with minimal impact to the other aspects of their processes.
“What’s so remarkable about Tectrol Storage Solutions for fresh blueberries is that the innovative zip-sealed pallet system combined with the patented breathable membrane allows just the right amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer needed by the fruit, for the storage of blueberries,” said Rich Macleod, TransFresh vice president. “Customers who have struggled in the past to meet the specific atmosphere needs of fresh blueberries are finding they have a new solution available for storage,” he said. “It’s the cost-effective storage tool they’ve been looking for.”
Macleod further commented that customers are reporting much more confidence in their storage solutions because they are able to more effectively match supplies with market demand. A pallet-sized atmosphere package such as the Tectrol Storage Solutions gives suppliers the flexibility to market a quality product through the peaks and valleys of the distribution system.
Customers who are interested in more information may contact Reilly Rhodes, TransFresh at (949) 279-5084.
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 systems operations and technologies. Since inception, TransFresh’s innovations in packaging, equipment and sealing processes have established Tectrol as an industry standard. For more information, please visit www.transfresh.com.
Apio is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Landec Corporation (LNDC). Landec, through Apio, is a market leader in the commercialization of specialty packaged vegetable products using Apio’s BreatheWay® patented technology. Landec also develops and commercializes injectable medical materials for ophthalmology and orthopedic applications. Landec’s Apio food subsidiary sells its products nationwide under the Eat Smart® and GreenLine® Brands. For more information visit www.apioinc.com.
Hauling fresh produce tends to provide much higher freight rates than dry freight, obviously because of the perishability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the extra care required with temperature, humdity, air circulation in the load, etc.
The higher risk to which truckers are exposed, also includes the possibilites of claims that reduce a driver’s pay check, or even worse, having the load rejected.
The degree of exposure to problems upon arrival at destination can depend on the honesty and integrity of the parties involved. Did the shipper pre-cool the product? Did the driver maintain proper temperature settings? Did the buyer or receiver pay too much for that product five days ago when the order was placed, and now the fruit on the market is worth $2 a box less? All of these examples can lead to claims or rejections with produce loads.
There have been studies over the years including the recent one titled Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality During Transport which provides some interesting information. For example, this research concludes that TransFresh Corp’s Tectrol process reduces fruit decay by increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in pallets covered by bags.
With CO2 levels increased by 11 to 16 percent, Tectrol beats its competitors in the important area of decay in strawberries by up to seven percent following delivery and two days on the shelf.
So how does this translate into a reduction in claims and load rejections for the produce trucker, if there is less decay in product being transported?
“That’s an interesting equation,” states Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. , Salinas, CA. “No one will ever talk about that. No one gives us their data. We’ve never been able to prove that (fewer claims, rejected loads), because we get it (information) by hersay.”
Macleod says experienced drivers know if they pick up a load of strawberries covered with bags, they are confident there will be no problems with that load. The expert in controlled atmosphere loads has been told by retailers “…their strawberry program is much easier” since using Tectrol.
However, when he asks that customer for data relating to load rejection and claims for strawberries comparing shipments with and without CO2 infused bagged pallets, he hits a stone wall. Those receivers acknowledge the benefits of Tectrol, but refuse to provide any statistics.
(This is the last of a 6-part series 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.)
(Note: This was originally planned as a five-part series, but is now turning into a 6-part series as I keep finding more information that is not only interesting, but I believe can be of great value to you as a produce trucker. Also, the latest strawberry purchase at my local Wal-Mart, was again this season, a frustrating experience. While the berries had good color protected in the clamshell container, they turned out to be soft and spongy once I got home and opened it.
Part IV of this series, may provide a clue why my strawberry purchase was disappointing, and why your delivery of some strawberries, may be cost you a claim or rejection at destination. — Bill Martin)
For example, several produce shippers of fresh strawberries choose to use a non-sealed bag type system, according to Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA, whose product is Tectrol.
In this series, I have used information from a study by the University of California, Davis/University of Florida study showing the advantages for truckers who have strawberry loads with palletized sealed bags using carbon dioxide (CO2). The study also is quite favorable to TransFresh. I’m referring to the research, Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry fruit Quality During Transit.
If I had not known Rich Macleod for years, being familar with his work, his concern for produce truckers and in general his honesty and integrity, plus his impressive career, I might be a bit wary of a study conducted in part by his alma mater, UC Davis, that is favorable to his company.
However, there was another study commissioned by PEAKfresh, a competitor of TransFresh. It was conducted by the Horticulture and crop Science Department at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, entitled, Comparison of the Efficacy of the PEAKfresh and Tectrol Systems for Maintaining Strawberry Quality.
This study can be found on both the PEAKfresh and TransFresh websites.
In part the research states, “Berries in PEAKfresh treated pallets became softer on average than berreis in the Tectrol treated pallets during cross-country shipments, and this is in agreement with previous research on the effect of elevated CO2 on strawberry firmness.”
Additionally the PEAKfresh commissioned study notes after a two-day shelf life, fruit from the Tectrol pallet system exhibited significantly less decay, from 3% to 7% than other systems evaluated.
So if research is showing that non-sealed pallet/bag systems results in more softness and decay in strawberries, why doesn’t everyone use the sealed system?
Rich Macleod says, “There is a significant price difference between an unsealed bag and a sealed MAP system (Tectrol). Obviously there is a lot more sophistication in materials, equipment and man power to create a sealed MAP.”
Macleod has been told the open bag systems cost around $8 to $12-plus per bag, while Tectrol charges its shippers $19.25 per service.
“Prices can range from $24/pallet to $30/pallet for either bag or service,” Macleod says.
Continuing, he states, “First off, if you are using the open bag system, you are not injecting any CO2. If you are using MAP (Tectrol), you not only are injecting CO2 or other gasses, you are trying to keep those gasses contained or sealed inside the system.”
Thus, Macleod wants the Tectrol CO2 levels to hit between 10% and 18% inside the sealed Tectrol bag upon arrival at destination. Thus, this process requires more material, specialized bags, sealing tape, CO2 injection machinery, etc.
So for obvious reasons, the Tectrol process costs a shipper more money, and apparently some shippers would rather risk strawberry quality shipped to customers, than pay more.
The old saying, “you pay for what you get” certainly seems to apply to modified atmosphere shipments of strawberries.
“Shippers who recommend and sell open bags enjoy a significant cost advatange over those recommending and selling a MAP like Tectrol. However, as a retailer, given the UC Davis data, why would you pay the same for an open bag service as a true MAP service,” Macleod asks.
And I, as a consumer, am wondering if Wal-Mart or their suppliers are not trying to cut corners on what they pay for strawberries because those berries are trucked across country in unsealed bags. It is the peak strawberry season, and I can’t seem to buy any decent strawberries!
(This is Part 4 0f 6 featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with the company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)