Techniques to prevent the ripening of the cranberry export

Andrea Albarrán Fresh Cargo Manager Maersk Line Chile

Of all the fruits that are produced in countries such as Chile, for example, blueberry is one of the most delicate in its harvest and post harvest because it is a climacteric fruit, that is, it is more susceptible to dehydration, rot and damage mechanic. Therefore, technology plays a fundamental role in its maintenance during export.

To guarantee the quality of the fruit, it is necessary to apply special care to preserve its properties, such as handling the different temperature ranges and controlled atmosphere, being cautious in the harvest, and handling in the different varieties until consolidation of the load and subsequent container loading.

In the first place, manual harvesting of the fruit in the fields and in the packaging process is essential to maintain the quality of the blueberry, in addition, it is recommended that during the harvest it is not exposed directly to the sun, since it is necessary to cover or use some material that generates shade during its transfer to the nearest packing plant.

In this sense, the handling of the temperature from the post harvest has become paramount in this type of merchandise, where the harvest times to the loading of the unit are only hours. The temperature drop, and therefore its handling, represents 80% of the cold chain. This administration directly influences the cranberry respiration and its passage to the container load, a period that practically represents 85% of the life of the cranberry during its transport to the different markets.

The blueberry has a life of approximately 55 days that represents the PSL (Practical Shelf Life), this is combined with the different transit times to different markets and types of technology in refrigerated containers.

To increase the shelf life, it is recommended that blueberries be transported in a refrigerated container with controlled atmosphere, technology that provides an adequate level of gases, delaying the breathing process during sea transport. This system continuously regulates the temperature, humidity and the correct levels of Oxygen (O2), Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen (N2) inside the refrigerated container, providing a long useful life of the product and generating less food waste.

In the market there are various controlled atmosphere technologies that help delay fruit ripening through high levels of CO2 that reach up to 6% and low levels of O2, inhibiting ethylene production. And for sensitive species such as blueberries that require a higher percentage of carbon dioxide, there are tools that have an active gas membrane, which supports levels of up to 18% CO2. This technology allows the producer to take measures regarding the control of fungi and rot, flavor, and softening, ensuring the optimum quality and qualities of blueberries.

In addition, today there are innovative tools that give exporters the ability to monitor the temperature, gas levels and location of the cargo during the entire trip in real time from a computer or cell phone, avoiding surprises upon arrival of the product.

Chile is the second largest producer of blueberries worldwide and this year already exceeded the 6.200 tons that had been projected, according to figures from the Chilean Blueberry Committee.

Some of the main destinations of this fruit are far away, such as the United States, the Netherlands and England. Therefore, another relevant factor is the transit times since, for example, the journey by sea lasts at least 23 days to Rotterdam. Thus, it is recommended to export with competitive transit times and also maintain the temperature of the load between -0,5 to 0,5 degrees Celsius to preserve the proper conditions of the blueberry, and ensure a quality product abroad.

By Andrea Albarrán Fresh Cargo Manager Maersk Line Chile

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