The Future Of Packaging
Farmer's Weekly|Farmer's Weekly 20 August 2021
Digitalisation, in combination with growing concern over pollution, wastage and food safety, is resulting in smarter, more functional packaging with a smaller environmental footprint. Alwyn van Jaarsveld, head of sales at Tessara, spoke to Glenneis Kriel about the latest packaging trends.
Glenneis Kriel

FAST FACTS

Packaging can be used strategically to extend the shelf life of products.

The strategic use of packaging can strengthen brand names.

Pressure is mounting for the use of eco-friendly packaging solutions.

Packaging has always been used to protect, carry and identify products. Today, it is also being used to extend the shelf life of fresh produce and protect it from pathogens.

Initial solutions in the fruit industry focused primarily on packaging design, looking at the size, number, and positioning of ventilation holes to facilitate good air movement and the quick cooling of produce, without compromising packaging strength and integrity. These holes, for example, need to align when packages are stacked on top of one another.

Alwyn van Jaarsveld, head of sales at Tessara, a manufacturer of packaging solutions for the fresh produce industry, says that research has resulted in packages that can shorten the time taken to cool fruit from more than 24 hours to less than 18 hours. This represents major energy savings and improvements in fruit-quality maintenance.

“With Eskom being unable to meet South Africa’s existing energy demands, farmers will struggle to further expand cold storage capacity in line with production expansions. Packaging will become increasingly important as a means of lengthening shelf life and maintaining the cold chain, by enabling farmers to pack directly from the land or accelerate the cooling of fruit to desired temperatures,” says Van Jaarsveld.

SMART SOLUTIONS

Along with packaging design, research has focused on ways to put the ripening process on hold by either modifying the atmosphere to reduce respiration or using ethylene scavengers to inhibit or reduce sensitivity to the growth hormone ethylene.

The solutions, amongst others, allow farmers to store apples year-round, while the use of the growth inhibitor 1-methyl cyclopropane, commercially known as SmartFresh, has revolutionized pear production in South Africa by enabling farmers to pick their Forelle pears two to three weeks later. Further ripening is then inhibited with SmartFresh.

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