Due to their vulnerability and limited shelf life, each year almost 50% of all fresh fruits and vegetables are thrown away at retailers and consumers around the globe, giving it the highest wastage rate of any food product around.

And with global climate change nowadays clearly effecting the crops, giving it the highest wastage rate of any food product around. And with global climate change nowadays clearly effecting the crops, and therefore the availability of fresh produce in general, it is obvious that actions need to be taken to protect this precious and healthy food item. As a proud member of the Save Food initiative, SEALPAC, Naber Plastics and PerfoTec set down to discuss the issue of fresh produce waste from a packaging point of view, and came up with an innovative solution: PerfoLid. 

Fruits and vegetables need to breatheIt is common knowledge that fresh produce needs to be able to breathe, and that each type of fruit or vegetable has its own breathing pattern, also known as the respiration rate. Most of the time this is ‘solved’ by packaging fresh produce in bags or clamshells with large holes. However, detailed regulation of the oxygen level of fresh produce is a critical factor to achieve optimal shelf life at retail and maximum freshness at the final customer. PerfoTec has a solution to reach the optimum protective atmosphere inside the pack, also known as Active Modified Atmosphere Packaging (AMAP). This is achieved by laser perforation of the top film, where the amount and size of the holes is perfectly tuned to the breathing pattern of the product. Compared to its alternatives, such as pre-perforated film or needle perforation, the PerfoTec system is extremely accurate and always fits the product. As such, the shelf life of fresh produce is extended considerably, resulting in less volume of packs that need to be thrown away at retail. As retailer M&S in UK stated after adopting the system: “PerfoTec was proven to deliver two days extra shelf life on strawberries and three days on raspberries, leading to significant reduction in store waste levels of up to 20%, and an increase in availability without any detriment to quality.”

Optimal freshness, all the way to the consumer’s homeHowever, after reaching the consumer, the issue of food waste remains. With current packaging, the shelf life of pre-packaged fruits and vegetables that are maintained in the consumer’s refrigerator at home is extremely limited, especially after opening the pack. Either the product has too much oxygen (e.g. after removing the top film of a tray with berries and placing it back in the fridge), or too little (e.g. after placing the remaining produce in a container or plastic bag in the refrigerator). As a result, the product immediately starts to dehydrate and turns brown. This is where SEALPAC and Naber Plastics offer an additional benefit: sealing and lidding in one single step. The result: a tray with highly reliable lid functionality, but without the need for an additional snap-on lid. This system, also known in the marketplace as EasyLid®, can be combined with the PerfoTec system, to create a recloseable pack for fruits and vegetables with extended shelf life. Hence the name: PerfoLid.

Tests with strawberries and grapes have shown that, after opening the PerfoLid tray, consuming some of its content, re-closing the tray with the lid, and placing it back in the refrigerator, the colour of the product maintains and the product stays juicy much longer. In short: PerfoLid reduces food waste, keeps products fresher and saves money. 

Innovationparc Packaging Save Food: stand IPP19.Interpack 2017: hall 5, stand C19

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