How Does Packaging Prolong Fruit Life?

In terms of containers for the transport of fruits and vegetables, the type of material used in these packages can make, for delicate products such as grapes, a big difference in their freshness and shelf life in supermarket shelves.

There is a wide variety of types of packaging in the market and the most used are corrugated boxes because of their low cost.

However, in order to maintain the qualities and freshness of the fruit, one must think of a type of container that can protect the product from sudden changes in temperature and damage during handling and storage.

For grocery stores, this means that fruits like grapes, which deteriorate quickly, can remain fresh longer on the stands, reducing the waste of food.

“Unlike other products that continue to mature after being harvested, grapes begin to deteriorate as soon as they are harvested, so providing cooler temperatures and packing them in boxes that facilitate the work of that colder temperature is very important,” Dick Lindenmuth, CEO of the Styrotek company, said in an interview with Abasto.

During more than 40 years, Styrotek, based in Delano, California, has been dedicated to the manufacture of packaging made with expandable polystyrene (EPS), which should not be confused with Styrofoam.

“In 1972, a group of Central Valley grape growers started the company because they found that the corrugated packaging was not suitable for all shipments,” Lindenmuth explained.

He went on to say that EPS packaging extends the life of the grapes up to 120 days, while being transported in corrugated boxes only lasts 10 days in good conditions.  According to a study prepared by UC Davis, there are many advantages of using EPS containers.

“When grapes are transported from where they are harvested to the place of sale and it’s not a great distance, there is no problem in the use of corrugated boxes, but when they have to be sent to more distant places, if better packaging is not used like the polystyrene expandable, they run the risk of ruining themselves,” warned Lindenmuth.

EPS provides a highly effective thermal insulation that limits the variability of temperature and allows grapes to remain in cold stores for up to four weeks before transporting them without loss of quality. Containers made with EPS, although not made with organic material, are 100% recyclable and can be transformed into an infinity of products such as helmets for cyclists, photo frames and even surfboards.

In a year, the total shipment of grapes is about 105 million boxes and of that total, about 45 million boxes are made with EPS, said the CEO of Styrotek.