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New packaging has the potential to preserve fruit for up to two months, making the prospect of ocean transport more realistic as shippers look to reduce their costs.

Speaking to The Loadstar at Fruit Logistica this month, Paclife agronomist Cristian Parra said the company’s polyethylene bags could be customised to accommodate the respiratory rate of individual fruits.

Though not alone in the polyethylene bag market, Mr Parra said that what sets Paclife apart from its competitors is its use of a “thermoactive membrane” within the film of the bag.

“Bags are customised to individual fruits to accommodate varying respiratory rates, meaning rather than lasting just a few days the fruit can survive ocean crossings – and then some,” he said.

“Presently, the bags on the market only accommodate blueberries (giving an another 60 days of life) and cherries, adding an extra 40-45 days of shelf life when combined with reefer transport.”

The membrane expands or contracts depending on the temperature of the fruit, allowing gas concentration management, and comes after 12 years of research.

Mr Parra said Paclife has also been helped by the fact it was awarded a worldwide protected patent for its membrane technology.

“Gaining the patent was difficult to achieve for the bag but what secured it was the additive used within them to extend shelf life,” he said.

“There are about five other companies working with modified atmosphere bags in Chile, but we are the only one using a properly thermoactive membrane, which is safest for packaging fruits.”

It makes sense that the Chilean company focused first on these fruits as they make up a significant part of the country’s exports, but other fruits such as kiwis, pomegranates and stone fruits could also find their shelf life extended by the bags.

Paclife has been active in increasing the bag’s visibility to global customers, with plans to roll out into Canada, China, Colombia, the EU, Mexico, Peru, and the US.

“With these new markets in mind, we are also in the early stages of investigating the bag’s use for grapes, passion fruit, rambutan, mangos and so on,” he added.

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