Most senior executives in the fresh produce industry will admit that levels of wastage are not what they should be. Very few can boast that the amount of produce discarded on a monthly basis is acceptable and few will know why or what can be done about it.
Like most aspects of business it boils down to tighter management and better training. The whole of the supply chain needs rigorous supervision and staff needs to buy in to why protocols are so important to maintain. Just simple personal hygiene is a major factor.
Wear protective clothing, wash your hands regularly, tie back you hair and wear a doek. If possible wear a protective face mask and disposable gloves. The truth is that any microbial matter, ethylene, dust and airborne contaminates have a very detrimental effect on fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers so the cleaner the environment the longer the shelf life of the produce will be.
There are a number of ethylene scrubbers available which cut down on this destructive gas but up until recently there hasn’t been a single device that cleans the air of all of the destructive impurities. Bluezone™ was developed in the US to assist the American forces Catering Corps to provide fresh, good quality produce in their many areas of operation across the globe to their members.
Subsequently it has been taken up by the fresh produce industry in many countries to improve the longevity of the shelf life of produce. Today it is being utilised by suppliers of fresh produce and flowers in countries such as Australia, Canada, USA. Mexico, Germany, Turkey, Israel and the Netherlands.
The technology revolves around a combination of ultra violet (UV) light and a catalyst which together clean the air of microbes, ethylene, hydrocarbons, odours, microorganisms, bacteria and other contaminants.
Tests have shown that shelf life can be increased by up to 30% resulting in a massive saving and a considerable reduction in the amount of wastage. Ultimately it is believed that this could result in the price of fresh produce on the shop floor reducing and we are sure that consumers would love to see that! Within the range there are two models of Bluezone™, the 2400 and the 300.
The 2400 model will be effective in temperature controlled rooms of up to 71m3 and the 300 up to 28m3 . The only maintenance required is the changing of the UV bulbs on an annual basis. This is a simple DIY process. Currently, here in South Africa there are tests being conducted to evaluate the efficacy and efficiency of Bluezone™ by major retail groups, as the possibility of maintaining freshness for up to 30% longer will have a major impact on profitability and turnover and will significantly affect the amounts of wastage currently experienced.