Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

New method to ripen fruit on the move

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New method to ripen fruit on the move
Successful adoption could reduce reliance on large ripening rooms and associated infrastructure.
In Use – In development – the researchers are looking to begin small scale manufacturing and undertake further testing during 2013.

Benefits
Resource efficiency (e.g. filling line efficiency), Storage and Transport efficiency

Product Categories
Food

Relevant Materials
Not Applicable

Relevant Packaging Formats
Not Applicable

Supply Chain Phase
Harvesting, Storage, Transportation

Details

Currently, most fruit is ripened in large ripening rooms at or near their point of consumption. As an alternative to this process, Australian researchers have developed a commercially competitive method for ripening the fruit during transit. This could eliminate the need for ripening rooms and the associated energy consumption from this stage of the supply chain.

Ethylene is widely used to control ripening of fruit such as bananas, mangoes, avocadoes, citrus fruits and tomatoes. However, it is not possible to use ethylene gas cylinders in transit due to difficulties in dosing from the compressed cylinders and due to the risk of explosion. To overcome this, the research team has developed a method of encapsulating ethylene gas into powder. A starch-derived material is used. This has cavities in its crystalline structure that can encapsulate the ethylene gas, which is then released from the complex powder when the temperature and humidity is raised.
In a trial less than 100g of ethylene powder was used to control the ripening of 20 tonnes of mangoes during a three day transit of 4000km, resulting in the fruit being ready for market six days earlier than mangoes that were not ripened by this process.
The technology, called RipeStuff, has been developed at the University of Queensland. The university’s commercialization company will begin small scale manufacturing develop packaging and delivery systems and undertake international trials during 2013. Once proof of principle has been confirmed the start-up will establish commercial production capacity and begin distribution to the UK and USA in 2013 or 2014 with potential to licence the technology to third parties depending on success.
The content in this entry has been obtained from publicly available information sources only (e.g. press releases, website and trade press articles) and is subject to completion of a validation process with the technology supplier.

Potential Benefits

Although the underlying rationale for this technology is commercial in focus, eliminating the need for ripening rooms has the potential to save energy and reduce the overall carbon footprint of this supply chain.

Intellectual Property

The technology has been developed at the University of Queensland and is being brought to market by the university’s commercialisation company, Uniquest Pty.

Consultant View

The main driver behind this technology development is commercial. Ripening fruit in transit eliminates reliance on the existing ripening infrastructure, taking out cost and improving speed to market. However, this will deliver indirect environmental benefits, in particular reducing overall energy required in the supply chain as the energy needed for the large scale ripening rooms is eliminated. This could be a significant environmental benefit in the supply chain for internationally distributed fresh fruit products.

Contacts and Further Information

Professor Bhesh Bhandari
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
University of Queensland
Australia
Tel: + (0)7 3346 9192
Email: b.bhandari@uq.edu.au
http://www.uq.edu.au

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