AGAIN and AGAIN, newspapers like USA Today and other media outlets have reported that HALF of our food goes into the garbage! If we look at the process, waste starts the moment we harvest our produce and continues until it is consumed. The amount of food that is lost due to food safety concerns, inefficient logistics and packaging is immense. Someone has to pay for these losses. This coupled with the forecast of food shortages, (Read the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “Global Report on Food Crises 2017” or “Food aid 2018: The Never-ending Crisis” from irin.org) is going to have a huge negative impact on the entire world population.
In an attempt to cut down on food waste, consumers are spending millions of dollars a year on fruit and vegetable preserving bags in an attempt to reduce household waste; even appliance manufactures such as Bosch are touting the positive effects of their VitaFresh refrigerator technology on fruits and vegetables.
Who benefits from reducing waste?
Consumers. They will throw out a lot less produce, which will encourage them to purchase more because of the positive experience of wasting less produce.
Retailers. Instead of filling up the dumpsters behind the store they will put money in their pocket and have happier customers buying better quality produce.
Growers. Fewer claims, less aggravation, happier customers.
Our carbon footprint. Huge savings on cross country freight and waste haulage fees.
Let’s take a look at the issue from the retailer’s prospective; industry sources tell us that between 2-7% of all the produce, at store level, goes into the dumpster, depending on store controls. In real dollars this is a huge, unnecessary cost to the bottom line.
You can drastically reduce the waste and save that money at little or no cost to your operation.
How do you achieve this goal?
One of the major causes of produce going bad is due to the ethylene gas that is generated during the ripening of fruits and vegetables. The way to solve the problem could be quite simple if you can pack your produce in active package with ethylene scavenge technologies. One of the examples is PrimePro® that a special proprietary additive is integrated the polyethylene material. It is designed to remove ethylene from the air around fresh produce. As ethylene is removed, the process of ripening and decay can be slowed, dramatically extending the shelf life of fresh produce by up to 100% depending on the commodity, variety and post harvest conditions. The end result is happier customers and huge savings for your company resulting in better profits.
Is this technology new?
Not really, ethylene reduction packaging has been around for years in various forms and continues to improve. Now it’s become mainstream. Currently PrimePro technology is embraced by the following applications:
Cherry and strawberry shippers to avert millions of dollars in claims on both domestic and export shipments.
Baby banana growers in Ecuador use it so they can use low cost sea freight to Europe.
Florida corn growers have used it when they ship corn to the UK and require great arrivals.
Asian greens are packed in this type of package material for the Toronto market. The extended shelf life allows them to expand their sales to non- traditional markets.
In Washington State, hundreds of thousands of pear boxes are now lined with this technology to ensure great tasting fruit as well as longer shelf life, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims.
Washington apple growers are also embracing the technology. They are enthused about saving money on CA rooms - product packed in PrimePro goes directly into the cooler.
A start-up endive grower took advantage of this technology and has grown their business due to reduced packaging costs and less returns.
Fresh produce growers, shippers and retailers have an important role to play in fighting food wastage. With the use of advanced packaging technologies, together we can achieve our goal to reduce food wastage.