StePacPPC has tailored its modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) films to suit a range of whole, sliced, and fresh mushrooms – aiming to extend their short shelf life and lower both food waste and cost.

With the rise of healthy and vegan diets driving demand for mushrooms, growers and shippers are looking for ways to optimize their storage capabilities without generating additional waste. StePacPPC’s solution is designed to slow decay and reduce weight loss in fresh whole and sliced white mushrooms, as well as whole exotic mushrooms like oyster, lion’s mane, shiitake, and portabella.

Reportedly, the customized films offer a high water vapour transmission rate alongside their MAP properties to slow respiration and aging, reduce dehydration, and keep excess moisture out of the packaging. As such, they are said to preserve texture, nutrition, and flavour to cut down on waste and cost.

Customers can also opt for films containing 30% recycled material in a push for enhanced circularity.

“Mushrooms have high metabolic activity and respiration rates which gives them a short shelf life, typically just a few days,” explains Gary Ward, PhD, CTO for StePacPPC. “They also generate a lot of moisture during the respiration process, which encourages bacterial decay.

“On the other hand, they are also prone to dehydration which causes them to shrivel, and they become discolored due to oxidation. Sliced mushrooms are even more susceptible to a rapid decline in quality.

“In post-harvest lab and field trials, our films have demonstrated abilities to maintain the freshness and wholesome appearance of mushrooms. This effectively stretches their shelf life from just a few days to more than two weeks, generating meaningful reductions in food waste.

“Our highly functional packaging solution has been tailored to dramatically improve inventory management and storability of mushrooms, enabling stakeholders to prolong storage in times of glut and preserve their quality along the supply chain. This, in turn, will boost marketability and consumer experience.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, StePacPPC’s Xtend bulk packaging solutions were used to help oyster mushroom farmers preserve their produce backlogs in cold storage in the wake of logistical standstills. Since then, it has worked with its partner Windham Packaging to adapt the solution for bulk fresh sliced white mushrooms; and the films are said to be gaining traction in North American foodservice outlines like hotels and restaurants.

“We use the Xflow solution for packing our sliced mushroom and preserving the quality during shipping to food service customers,” commented Fred Recchiuti from Basciani Foods. “The results have been impressive, and overall, the packaging system preserved the freshness for as long as 18 days.

“The tamper-proof bag increases food safety, security, and eliminates the possibility of foreign materials entering the product in the supply chain. For sustainability, it reduces the product’s plastic use by more than 94.7% versus the tubs we used to use.”

“We use the Xtend solution for packing our oyster and portobella mushrooms and preserving the quality during shipment to the customers,” added Roni Sofer, VP of Marketing for Marina Galilee Mushrooms. “The results have been amazing, and overall, we have succeeded in preserving the freshness for more than 10 days and waste in our supply chain has reduced by more than 35% since we began. We strongly recommend to any mushroom grower or supplier to examine this solution.”

The announcement comes after Wageningen University & Research and Istanbul Technical University’s biobased smart polyurethane film for fresh produce was nominated for a Sustainability Award in the pre-commercialized Active & Intelligent category last year.

Soon after, SÜDPACK launched its new Multifol Extreme base film. The solution sought to enable thinner and more lightweight thermoforming packaging in vacuum and MAP applications for fish products, as well as cut down on costs and emissions.

In another mushroom-related development, Sainsbury’s is repackaging its own-brand mushrooms in cardboard punnets, which is set to remove enough plastics from its operations to match the weight of 43 full double-decker buses in London.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

The L’Oréal approach to packaging sustainability

The way we talk about plastic needs to change – here’s how to get it right

What steps is Apple taking to make its packaging more sustainable?

The Danone approach to packaging sustainability