Ripening in Transit

The climacteric is a stage of fruit ripening associated with increased ethylene production and a rise in cellular respiration. Exposure to ethylene causes climacteric fruit to ripen after being picked. Examples include apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blackberries, kiwi, plums, peaches, pears and tomatoes. Ethylene gas is the ripening agent which occurs naturally in nature. It causes fruits to ripen and decay, vegetables and floral to wilt. Controlling ethylene gas after picking will extend the life cycle of the commodity allowing it to be held for a much longer period of time.

As markets expand across the country and around the world, preserving freshness is one of the biggest challenges. While refrigeration and humidity slow decay, they don’t halt the production of ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is used in ripening rooms to colour up fruit then is moved to a regular cold storage room with other produce. The ethylene gas turns bananas yellow, tomatoes red and make avocados soft and ready to eat. While ethylene gas is used under controlled conditions as a ripening agent, even small amounts of ethylene gas during shipping and storage causes most fresh produce to deteriorate faster.

The Cargo Carousel System’s (CCS) technology can produce ethylene gas at any time while produce is still in transit. This approach can bypass the expensive ripening centres and the distribution centres completely and deliver directly to the retailer where it can be sold immediately or further stored until ripening is required.

Currently, there are bottlenecks at the pre-cooling stage after harvest when the produce is cooled for transport both, at the farm and at the port. The ripening centre itself also creates a bottleneck as does transport from the distribution centres to the retail store. Each of these bottlenecks can be alleviated by the CCS. Pre-cooling, ripening, transport and storage are all contained in one system with real-time alerting to any changes in the atmosphere and supervisory control of the temperature, humidity, ethylene, O2, CO2, light exposure, movement, shock, etc. With this system’s ability to eliminate cardboard boxes while offering a reverse chain to pay for the return trip, the CCS can provide an impressive ROI for every leg of the climacteric fruit supply and reverse chains.