SCA said it is developing breakthrough active packaging to help extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables.
The company’s Germany division has been working with the Fraunhofer Institute on novel technology to incorporate ethylene absorbers into corrugated cardboard packaging to slow down the ripening process of fruit.
“This would be the first time that anyone has ever incorporated ethylene absorbers into the corrugated cardboard substrate,” Anja Roehrle, marketing manager SCA Packaging Germany & Switzerland, told FoodProductionDaily.com.
Company researchers were also considering the incorporation of the technology into a printed inner lining, she added.
SCA said it had decided to develop the technology to avoid the need to place separate sachets into the package – which consumers were often wary about.
However, Roehrle stressed that the fresh fruit + system was still a prototype and would undergo significant further testing before being brought to market provisionally by the end of 2012.
“We are still testing the concept in terms of machine testing, potential shelf life extension and ensuring it meets regulations on product safety,” she said.
The shelf life of some fruit and vegetables is affected by the formation of ethylene gas which is produced during the ripening process – particularly when produce is in close proximity in packaging during storage, transport and retail.
The ethylene absorbing corrugated cardboard crate can help to slow down the process of decay and reduce losses due to more rapid ripening.
To make the active packaging, a binding element is applied to the corrugation cavities and the ethylene absorber applied to this in powder or granule form. This is then sealed by the addition of a covering paper layer. SCA said once completed further production of the crate can then carry on as normal.