Packaging or Export Packaging for fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the more important steps in the long and complicated journey from grower to consumer. Fresh fruits and vegetables have very high moisture content, ranging from 75-95%. Their equilibrium relative humidities are as high as 98%. Under any normal atmospheric condition, they will dry rapidly.
For the most part, packaging cannot delay or prevent fresh fruits and vegetables from spoilage. Incorrect packaging can accelerate spoilage. However, packaging can serve to protect against contamination, damage and, most importantly, against excess moisture loss.
Recyclability / Biodegradability :
A growing number of export markets have waste disposal restrictions for packaging materials. In the near future, all produce packaging will be recyclable or biodegradable, or both.
The trend is toward greater use of bulk packages for processors and wholesale buyers and small packages for consumers. There are now more than 1500 different sizes and styles of produce packages.
Sales Appeal :
High quality graphics are increasingly being used to boost sales appeal. Also, multi-colour printing, distinctive lettering, and logos are now common.
Shelf Life :
Modern produce packaging can be custom engineered for each commodity to extend shelf life and reduce waste.
Packaging For Fruit And Vegetables
Export packaging can be classified in a number of ways. The most important one is by stages of distribution system for which it is primarily intended.
- Consumer or Unit Packaging
- Transport Packaging
- Unit Load Packaging
Bags are the most common and favoured retail packs because of their low material and packaging cost. Net bags are used to provide desired ventilation and allow free air movement for the produce such as citrus fruits, onions, potatoes, etc. The bags can be made of paper, perforated polyethylene or polypropylene film, plastic or cotton nets.
Packs made of foamed polystyrene or PVC or PP are over wrapped with heat shrinkable or stretch films. A tight wrap immobilises the fruits and keeps them apart. Trays of moulded pulp, card board, thermoformed plastic or expanded polystyrene are also used.
Sleeve Packs :
These combine the low cost of bags and protective qualities and sales appeal of tray packs. Wraps of plastic film such as polyethylene or PVC, in the form of shrink- wrap, stretch film or cling film and regular net stocking or expanded plastic netting can also be used. The main advantage in sleeve packs is that they immobilise the produce at a fraction of cost of tray packs and the produce can be seen from all sides without damage to the fruit.
Corrugated Fibreboard Boxes :
CFB (Corrugated fibreboard) boxes are the most commonly used shipping containers where cartons, glass, cans and pouches are the unit containers.
Plastic Corrugated Boxes :
The most commonly used material for plastic corrugated box is polypropylene and HDPE. Its advantage over CFB is low weight to strength ratio and its reusability. CFB box has an edge over plastic fibreboard boxes when cushioning properties are taken into consideration.
Plastic Crates :
Plastic crates, usually made up of HDPE or polypropylene by injection moulding have been replacing wooden and wire crates. These crates must have good resistant properties to ultraviolet degradation and shock damages.
Wooden Boxes :
Includes natural wood and industrially manufactured wood-based sheet materials. Manufactured wood based sheet materials include ply wood, hard board and particle board. Plywood is usually made from birch. t is rigid and strong, though perhaps somewhat less resistant to splintering than poplar, but is smoother and flatter to be suitable for direct printing.
These are flexible shipping containers which are generally used in food industries to transport raw materials viz. fruits and vegetables from the field. The commonly used materials for sacks are cotton, jute, flan, woven plastics (HDPE, Polypropylene). These sacks are advantageous to use as they cost less, have high strength, reusable and require little space for the empties.
Pallets have been standardised keeping in view of the standard package sizes and sea containers. The sizes of the pallets are of strategic importance since they correspond directly to the sizes of various types of containers, ship cargo compartments, trucks, fork trucks, etc. Most commonly used pallet sizes are 120×80 cm (Euro pallet) and 120×100 cm (Sea pallet). Sea pallets are most commonly used outside Europe.
Active Packaging :
Several new technologies offer the packer opportunities to modify the atmosphere inside the shipping package during distribution even though such control traditionally finishes with the sealing of the package. Packaging is termed as “active” when it performs some desired role other than to provide an inert barrier to the external environment. The goal of developing such packaging is the achievement of a more ideal match of the properties of the package to the requirements of the food. Hence, it addresses one or more specific needs of the food without necessarily having any impact on other food properties.
Ethylene Scavengers :
Ethylene (C2H4) acts as a plant hormone that has different physiological effects on fresh fruit and vegetables. It accelerates respiration, leading to maturity and senescence, and also softening and ripening of many kinds of fruits.
CO2 Scavengers :
CO2 is formed in some foods due to deterioration and respiration reactions. The CO2 produced has to be removed from the package to avoid food deterioration and/or package destruction. CO2 absorbers might therefore be useful.
Oxygen Scavenging :
Oxygen is such a broadly effective agent of deterioration in foods that a substantial industry has been established to provide a wide range of alternative means of oxygen removal from package headspace to reduce chemical deterioration.
Humidity Regulators :
This approach allows the food packer to reduce the surface concentration of water in a food by reducing the in-pack relative humidity. This can be done by placing one or more humectants between two layers of a plastic film which is highly permeable to water vapour. A different approach to humidity buffering is being developed for use in the distribution of horticultural produce which is normally distributed in fibreboard cartons, usually with a polyethylene liner or made from very expensive waxed fibreboard without a liner. A recent development has been the water-barrier coating of the inside of fibreboard cartons to allow moist produce to be placed directly into the carton.
Antimicrobial Packaging :
Substantial recent research has been directed at determining how the surfaces of plastics can be made not only sterile but also capable of having an antimicrobial effect on the packaged food or beverage. This type of effect has already been achieved in outer layers of laminates by use of modified printing presses. To control undesirable microorganisms on foods, antimicrobial substances can be incorporated in or coated onto food packaging materials. The principle action of antimicrobial films is based on the release of antimicrobial entities, some of which could pose a safety risk to consumers if the release is not tightly controlled by some mechanisms within the packaging material.
In recent days, entrepreneurs in India are showing greater interest in internal marketing as well as export of fresh produce. The trade is attractive but is not an easy enterprise; a high degree of organisation and professionalism is necessary to export fresh produce successfully, especially to the sophisticated markets of Europe. It can make good use of indigenous horticultural skills. The combined requirements of fresh produce and of its transport environment often impose unusually severe conditions on the packaging employed. As a result, higher package quantity is usually needed for fresh fruits and vegetables when compared to manufactured goods of the same weight.
Tandle Imports and Exports is one of the India’s leading Agro Trading Company. Our extensive experience and attention to detail, we have won the trust and satisfaction of our customers in the worldwide market. For best quality export packaging contact us anytime.