16AGRITECHCAT5: Next generation modified atmosphere materials to extend farm storage and reduce waste

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: School of Water, Energy and Environment

Abstract

The control of respiratory gases within a storage or packaging environment is often used to extend postharvest storage/shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables, and thereby reduce wastage in the supply chain. Current modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) can extend the postharvest quality of fresh produce, but its performance is often limited by its inability to respond to the changing physiology of the produce, leading to the development of sub optimal gas conditions. MAP would benefit considerably if it is made flexible so that it responds to the changing physiology of the produce and the allied gaseous kinetics. This project will focus on the development of the next generation of MAP comprising of innovative cost effective inserts which are able to manipulate the internal atmosphere of the packaging by administering the ideal gaseous conditions at the optimum time for prolonged storage & improved management of produce in the farmers cold storage and throughout the entire supply chain.

Technical Summary

The control of respiratory gases within a storage or packaging environment is often used to extend postharvest storage/shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables, and thereby reduce wastage in the supply chain. Current modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) can extend the postharvest quality of fresh produce, but its performance is often limited by its inability to respond to the changing physiology of the produce, leading to the development of sub optimal gas conditions. MAP would benefit considerably if it is made flexible so that it responds to the changing physiology of the produce and the allied gaseous kinetics. This project will focus on the development of the next generation of MAP comprising of innovative cost effective inserts which are able to manipulate the internal atmosphere of the packaging by administering the ideal gaseous conditions at the optimum time for prolonged storage & improved management of produce in the farmers cold storage and throughout the entire supply chain.

Planned Impact

Losses of agricultural produce from grower to retailer can be as high as 40%, leading to significant environmental impact and financial losses for the farmer. Consumers expect fresh produce to be available all year round, which means produce needs to be stored for longer to extend availability and out-of-season produce has to travel long distances from the growers in other parts of the world. The fresh produce industry is forecast to have a value of $735 Bn in 2015 and global production volumes of fruits & vegetables in excess of 1.7 Bn tonnes/yr (FAOSTAT, 2012). The challenge to the industry is to provide improved shelf life and reduced waste. There is a market need for technologies to extend shelf life beyond what can be achieved by refrigeration alone. Shelf life extension technologies reduce wastage in the supply chain and can enable farmers to grow more and then store longer for supply on demand. Current methods to store fresh produce rely on a combination of refrigeration and MAP. The packaging films are often more permeable to CO2 than to O2 but if micro perforations are added, the permeability to both is similar. The control of temperature, humidity, O2, CO2 & ethylene concentrations can all help extend the produce's shelf life. EMAP packaging such as Xtend can control O2, CO2 and humidity to a certain degree, but there are instances where EMAP alone is insufficient. This is most pronounced with; low respiring produce, where the EMAP conditions can take in excess of a week to be achieved; produce items that are intolerant to very low concentrations of CO2; when packaging is subject to temperature abuse. For example, bulk MAP for berry fruit represents an opportunity for prolonging storage & reducing wastage during the supply chain of a produce item that is becoming increasingly popular in UK due to its high nutritional value. A bulk MAP solution that can sufficiently prolong storability of table grapes would be revolutionary and would hopefully reduce the dependency on SO2 releasing pads which, although enabling storage and shipment for up to 3 months is a known allergen and can result in flavour taint, bleaching and berry shatter. UK farmers could benefit from optimised gas conditions in MAP in other produce. Asparagus responds well to MAP & optimization of gas compositions within the packaging would assist in extending the rather short season. The addition of functional materials that alter the gaseous composition of consumer MAP upon transfer to shelf life conditions also represents an opportunity for further improvement of this type of packaging, the major limitation of which is the inability to provide optimal conditions during shipment at low temperatures as well as during shelf life at higher temperatures. This solution would present an opportunity for extension of shelf life of avocadoes in retail packaging. This project sets out to demonstrate a solution to these needs by the addition of "active" materials to fresh produce packaging. The market for active materials used in food packaging exceeds $3Bn but the only active materials currently applied to fresh produce on a significant scale are ethylene scavengers ($390M). Enhancement of current EMAP solutions could allow both access to the existing market and creation of new opportunities. A successful new product has to deliver a measurable effect at the right price point, as well as be relatively easily integrated into the supply chain. There is strong evidence that the fresh produce industry adopts new technologies where the value is clearly demonstrated. Examples include CA solutions in storage & transport, EMAP and ethylene control (1-MCP). The market need for solutions is large with even a small % avoidance of food waste, worth £10Bn in the UK, constituting an attractive market. The outputs from this project will demonstrate that the combination of MAP + active materials to control the gaseous environment can deliver responsive solutions to exten

Publications

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Falagán N (2018) Recent Advances in Controlled and Modified Atmosphere of Fresh Produce in Johnson Matthey Technology Review

 
Description The research has demonstrated that shelf life can be extended using newly developed inserts which alter the gaseous environment within fresh produce packaging.

For the BBSRC seedling catalyst RNA sequencing analysis is on going [due to delays by commissioned company]. Results will feed into the main project.
Exploitation Route The work is covered by a NDA. However, the developed technology will benefit all in the supply chain who want to extend shelf life and reduce food losses and waste.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description This funding award and allied previous research by Prof Terry at Cranfield University with Johnson Matthey Plc has led in part to the company setting up a new business unit [Controlled Atmosphere Technologies) and the purchase of an Israeli company [Stepac]. see - http://www.matthey.com/about_us/divisions/new-businesses/atmosphere-control-technologies see - http://www.matthey.com/media_and_news/news/2016/johnson-matthey-and-cranfield-university-collaborating-on-next-generation-food-packaging
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Description BBSRC TFP Seeding Award - Advanced packaging: taking action to reduce food waste
Amount £27,555 (GBP)
Organisation Cranfield University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 02/2019
 
Description Presentation at the BBSRC Seeding Catalyst Award Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Cranfield University together with Agri-EPI Centre and CHaP organised an event to showcase results of the BBSRC Seeding Catalyst Awards focusing on the technology and applications of the Agri-EPI Centre / CHaP / Cranfield University Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility on the 28th of February 2019.
Business and researchers attended the event, which promoted discussion about future collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.agri-epicentre.com/event/bbsrc-seeding-catalyst-award-event-on-28th-february-2019/