Uflex, India’s largest global flexible packaging solution company, has been working with customers in India for extending the shelf life of exotic fruits. India grows exotic fruits such as Litchi, Rambutan, Mangosteen and the market demand for these products have been increasing year on year at a rapid pace.
News of successes in Flexfresh in major vegetables and fruits drew the interest to try out the shelf life extension solution for Rambutan. The issue at hand is that the product has to be consumed within 48 hours of harvest and could only be sold to neighboring markets. The product loses about 8% moisture a day when stored in ambient conditions and its skin turns black on day two due to moisture loss making the product unfit for consumption.
Rambutan is grown commercially in large parts of Western Ghats in Southern India and the customer undertook trials with Uflex’s Flexfresh looking for a solution to overcome the short shelf life issue, which was denying him the opportunity of offering the product in faraway markets.
Trials were conducted under 10°C using the Flexfresh 60*40 Liners inside the reusable plastic crates. Product was packed both in bunches and also in punnet for retail sales. Two trials with different transmission values were conducted and the initial observation was done after three days with the first set of samples and the second set of samples were opened on Day 7. The product was further exposed to ambient temperature of around 28° for a period of 48 hours to see the shelf life of the product. The weight loss after seven days was below 0.5% and the quality was intact as there was no moisture loss. With exposure to ambient conditions, the product was still in good condition even after 48 hours with weight loss of around 5%. The customer was elated with the results.
The possibility of offering Rambutan to distant location under refrigerated conditions was possible with excellent shelf life and very low weight loss. The customer is now looking at exporting the product to other countries as this opens us a completely new opportunity in offering the products where his profitability could result in recovering the additional costs.
Explaining the trial results, Flexfresh™ vice-president Siva Shankaran informed that the harvested product was packed in ambient conditions in the liner bag and closed hermetically. This ensured that the available oxygen inside the liner bag was consumed almost immediately. The temperature of the produce under refrigeration was going down to the target, ensuring that the respiration rate was brought down gradually without any shock to the product. The carbon dioxide further ensured that the product color was maintained and also offered protection from fungal infections. With the product respiring under high humidity, the weight loss is a thing of the past. The product took almost two days to awaken back to the higher respiration rates and this allowed the window of opportunity for the retailer to have the product reach the customer in good condition.
Uflex and Perfotec BV have been making strong strides in the fresh produce industry, opening up newer markets and enabling cheaper transportation solutions to benefit the produce reaching markets in good marketable condition with minimal weight loss and outstanding freshness.
Flexfresh is sold in liner bags suitable for international standard size open top boxes and crates. It is also offered as flow wrap for flowers and large products such as papaya, melons etc., and is also offered as lidding films.
Commenting about the success of FlexFresh, chairman and managing director Ashok Chaturvedi said: "Perfotec and Uflex are complementing each other’s capabilities to globally address the issue of shelf life extension of fresh produce in the most innovative, scientific and efficient manner. Leaving the worry of deteriorating qualities during the freight much behind them, the exporters world over are now feeling empowered with a contemporary packaging technology at their disposal that offers fresh quality of fruits and vegetables. All of this at minimal logistical expenditure makes the whole proposition all the more lucrative."