Cellular respiration is a biochemical process that affects all living cells, including cells within crops and produce post-harvest.
Cellular respiration takes place in plants when cells use oxygen to process carbohydrates. Oxygen from the air breaks down carbohydrates in the plant into carbon dioxide and water.
Fresh produce cannot replace carbohydrates or water after harvest. Cellular respiration will use stored starch or sugar, stopping when reserves of these are exhausted. The produce will then decay and become inedible.
Understanding the respiration levels of a particular crop can help to determine the optimum conditions required to extend shelf-life including the design of modified atmosphere packaging.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging
Modifying the atmosphere in packaging is a process that typically aims to lower the amount of oxygen within the internal atmosphere of a pack, causing a reduction in the cellular respiration levels of the packaged produce.
By lowering oxygen levels Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) can help to improve the shelf-life of a range of fresh produce by slowing the process of decay.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging can be created by using particular packaging films, packaging formats, gas-flushing packaging using an inert gas such as nitrogen or by adding perforations to packaging to enable controlled gas transfer.
Adding laser perforation patterns to packaging can significantly improve shelf-life. The changeable nature of fresh produce throughout seasons can mean that patterns must be adapted to respond to changing respiration rates.
Adapt MAP is a technology created by Ultimate Packaging, focused on the development of Modified Atmosphere Packaging that uses laser perforations to improve the shelf-life of a range of fresh produce.
The Ultimate Respiration Chamber
Adapt MAP is a technology designed and launched by Ultimate Packaging that is focused on the development of Modified Atmosphere Packaging.
When creating packaging that can extend shelf-life it is important to understand the various factors that cause products to deteriorate once processed and packaged.
The Ultimate Packaging Technical Team has designed, built and launched a digital, respiration measuring chamber to enable product testing.
The products tested include varieties of:
The respiration chamber is a mobile unit that is used in-situ by Ultimate Packaging customers to carry out testing throughout the season of a particular product.
Regularly testing a crop enables packaging to be produced by Ultimate Packaging that can provide an optimum modified atmosphere solution to improve the shelf-life of produce. It highlights the requirement to create responsive packaging rather than a one size fits all solution.
The chamber measures gas levels over a four hour period. During testing the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) increase and levels of oxygen (O2) decrease.
Due to the simple design and easy to operate software the chamber is straightforward to use. A user selects the crop for testing, logs its weight and then adds it into the chamber. Once the lid is properly sealed and a vacuum is attained within the chamber the testing process begins.
The Adapt MAP software collects data via the gas space analyser located inside the chamber. Following four consecutive hours of testing the data is collated and sent to Ultimate Packaging’s Technical team for analysis.
The technical team use the analysed data to create packaging with a tailored laser perforation pattern based on the respiration rate of a particular crop.
Adapt MAP technology has been proven to add 2+ days onto the shelf-life of a range of produce making it a vital solution to support the fresh produce supply chain, from harvest to store and onwards to consumer homes.
Extend shelf-life, reduce waste and add value to fresh produce.