The blueberry harvesting season is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere. The blue fruits business in both hemispheres may soon have an innovative tool for extending seasonality and reducing food waste, says Polish food-tech company Fresh Inset.

The results of trials conducted for the company on blueberries after using a patented 1-MCP delivery system indicated a slower ripening effect. Treated blueberries kept very good eating quality and firmness for 49 days. Methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) is an ethylene action inhibitor in plant cells that binds with the receptor.

Vidre+™ technology is a patented system for 1-MCP that begins release 1-2 hours after packing and gradually releases within the packaging itself over 30 hours via a simple-to-use sticker. The release of the product is triggered by humidity within the packaged product. This technology can now protect ethylene, the gas and natural plant hormone that plays an important role both in ripening and fruit softening/degradation. It is already used in Argentina and is awaiting regulatory approval in key food production markets including the Americas and will soon start this process in the European Union.

The trials were commissioned by Fresh Inset and led by Dorota Wichrowska, Ph.D., from the University of Science and Technology in Poland during the summer season of 2022. Blueberries treated with 1-MCP Vidre+ stickers lost less weight and kept better eating quality and firmness for a longer time compared to untreated ones.

“Research underscores the potential of the Vidre+ technology, which can bring time management flexibility and the ability to deliver fresher blueberries across extended supply chain routes. The technology has demonstrated a positive impact on freshly harvested blueberries, which is marked by reduced weight loss, improved overall quality, extended fruit firmness, and better retention of essential elements like Vitamin C and antioxidants,” says Tim Malefyt, Ph.D., CTO at Fresh Inset.

Throughout the test period, treatments with Vidre+ exhibited a 2-3% reduction in weight loss compared to the untreated group. They also maintained excellent eating quality for 35 days and kept very good eating quality for the full 49 days of the test, according to the company. Untreated fruits began to soften after 21 days compared to 35 days for treated fruit. After 28 days in cold storage, treated blueberries had 83% more Vitamin C and 33% higher antioxidant levels.

The key to the success of Vidre+ as a solution is the timed and gradual release mechanism that allows produce to be treated by 1-MCP directly in packaging, eliminating the need for a 24-hour application in a sealed storage room or air-tight containers. Other products using 1-MCP do not offer timed release, the company says. The technology is easily used and affordable. Fresh Inset estimates that Vidre+ could save up to 9.46m tonnes of fruits and vegetables annually. This would be a significant contribution to the global food waste fight, it believes.

The company also undertook successful trials on raspberries and sweet cherries and found that treated raspberries stay firmer for up to 10 days and maintained vitamin C levels compared to untreated fruit. For cherries in clamshells under controlled storage conditions, untreated fruit began to lose quality at 3 days, while for the Vidre+ protected fruit this was 9 days.

“The bottom line here is that you can easily change a box, carton, clamshell, etc. from just a package into a smart freshness protection system and you do not need a sealed environment or qualified staff. The list of crops that we can protect with our technology is growing longer,” added Malefyt.

This article was created in collaboration with AIPIA (the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association). For a full update on active and intelligent packaging, come along to the AIPIA World Congress (co-organized by Packaging Europe) in Amsterdam on 14-15 November. The only smart packaging event covering the entire technology spectrum, the World Congress is a meeting place for the global active and intelligent packaging industry where brand owners, innovators, and other stakeholders can network and see and discuss the latest trends and innovations. Register to attend here.