Strip keeps fruit fresher, longer

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Strip keeps fruit fresher, longer

April 22
09:59 2013

British retailer Marks & Spencer has introduced a new packaging component for its range offresh fruit which helps to extend shelf life of the products considerably. The system is similar to that introduced last year by another British supermarket chain, Tesco. It’sFresh! was commercially adopted last year after extensive tests on berries.

The technology is a food grade non-woven strip (8cm x  4.5cm) coated with a patented mixture of minerals and clays that allows for removal of endogenous ethylene in fruit and vegetables to below physiologically active levels, so reducing spoilage. It has been developed by It’sFresh Ltd, the UK subsidiary of Food Freshness Technology which is claiming that it is 100 times more effective than any existing materials.

Ethylene is the smallest possible alkene and a well-known plant hormone involved in the ripening of fruit. Speculating on how it works, an industry expert said, “Clay is an aluminosilicate with a large volume, so perhaps we’re talking about something akin to a zeolite, with a large surface area for the gaseous ethene to adsorb onto. And as for the other minerals, perhaps the pores are impregnated with some antibacterial agent, like silver, to keep the fruit extra fresh”.

In future strawberries sold in Marks & Spencer will include the legend ‘It’s Fresh’ on the packaging. The writing will actually be on the rectangular strip that enables the fruit’s life to be extended.

The incorporation of this freshening strip doesn’t affect the punnets’ recyclability or cost, and it is the retailer’s intention to make it a standard feature across its entire packaged fruit range.

Trials carried out in M&S stores showed a minimum wastage saving of 4% – during the peak strawberry season this would equate to 40,000 packs, or about 800,000 strawberries.

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