The Quality System established for Chilean blueberries

"The world supply of blueberries is changing rapidly and with it the quality standards demanded by our customers ..."

The Chilean Blueberry Committee has implemented a Quality System focused on maintaining the consistency of the quality of Chilean blueberries. The objective of this initiative is to regulate the industry, establishing minimum quality requirements for fresh export blueberries that are packed by the companies adhering to the Committee.

The Quality System is based mainly on the development and supervision of 5 fundamental pillars, which cover the industry in an integral way, from the choice of variety of the plant and each one of the handling until the post-harvest.

First pillar: Varieties

This first pillar tries to discourage the use of poor postharvest varieties and encourage good varieties, classifying them into three groups according to their quality and postharvest behavior, based on the experience of professionals from associated companies, on the research carried out. by academia and research institutes, through technical tests or the quality verification program carried out by the Committee itself.

Group 1: This group of varieties may be exported fresh, considering the harvest periods ("thirds") and the destination markets. New varieties are included here and some examples are Duke, Draper, Legacy, or Blue Ribbon.

Group 2: In this group, greater caution is suggested to be exported fresh, since they are varieties that have shown fragility, especially related to firmness, such as Jewel, O'Neil, or Ochlockonee.

Group 3: This group of varieties is suggested not to be included in fresh export programs, such as Elliot, Blueray, or Blueheaven.

Second Pillar: Preharvest Handling

Here it is a matter of focusing on those operations that affect the firmness and presence of rots, because the lack of firmness is one of the condition parameters that most affects marketing, and pest control is essential to guarantee safety requirements.

Preharvest management must be carried out that focuses on pruning and balanced nutrition and adequate irrigation, with the aim of building good raw material.

Finally, pest control is essential so that the fruit is not rejected, which is why it is necessary to carry out an intra- and extra-farm analysis, and monitor it to know when and how to carry out an effective integrated pest control.

Third Pillar: Harvest management

To meet the new market requirements, a good harvest management must be carried out, starting with training for the personnel that is related to the process and having supervisors.

Here it is advisable to start the harvest early and not to do so with temperatures over 30 ° C, or when the fruit is wet, and to start the harvest when there is 10 to 15% of ready fruit, which is above 90% covering color. The frequency of harvest is essential and cannot be more than 7 days. It is suggested that the fruit enter the property stockpile in a period not exceeding 30 minutes. Then, it is essential that the fruit is cooled as quickly as possible, not exceeding 4 hours from the farm collection center.

Fourth Pillar: Postharvest Management

To maintain the quality and condition of the fruit for longer, humid chambers should be used to determine the pressure of Botrytis on the fruit. It is suggested to gasify with sulfur dioxide and the temperature of the fruit should be lowered with forced air.

Traceability of the cold chain must be carried out and continuously monitored. This includes the temperature control of the fruit that is being dispatched, which must be stored in holding rooms, and which must be between +0,5 to -0,5 ° C for pulp temperature.

Quality control must be carried out at critical points from when the fruit enters the plant until it is dispatched (reception of bulk or packed fruit, before entering the packaging line, on the line, review the commercial, review the soft, finished product and pre-shipment).

Fifth Pillar: Quality Standard

"The world supply of blueberries is changing rapidly and with it the quality standards demanded by our customers", argues the Quality System, so the objective of this standard is to establish the minimum quality requirements for finished fruit, which includes all fresh export blueberries that are packed by the exporting companies that are members of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, which in turn define those responsible for meeting these requirements.

For more information, contact Mrs. Julia Pinto, mail: jpinto@asoex.cl

Source
Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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