The first test grapes have yielded positive results, extending the product life-cycle.
“We simply cannot allow a third of the food produced is thrown away or wasted by inadequate practices, especially when 870 million people starve every day.”
With these words the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva, presented the report Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources in Rome last September 2013. According to the report, this waste occurs in stages (harvesting, classification, transport, marketing and cooking) being in the first when 54% of the waste is generated.
To help reduce these food wastes from Aitiip Technology Center we participate in the FreshBox project which aims to reduce waste produced in the transport phase, and is coordinated by the Aula Dei Scientific and Technological Park.
Thus, the project aims to make more sustainable the road transport of vegetables preserving the products quality and reducing the amount of waste generated in this process.
Aitiip contributes to this project by designing a new container that adapts its permeability through the design and installation of membranes at the rate of vegetables respiration. Moreover design incorporates active substances as well as sensors that help fruits and vegetables elongate their shelf life.
Respiration of fruits and vegetables.
Every fruits and vegetables respire, still in the ground or having been harvested. They respire oxygen and exhale CO2 and water vapor.
The speed of this respiration varies depending on the product as well as external factors such as temperature or surrounding atmosphere. The key to keeping fresh these products is to reduce the respiration rate without damaging product quality (taste, texture and appearance).
In general, the respiration rate can be reduced by maintaining a low temperature, or introducing lower levels of oxygen in the atmosphere and increasing the levels of carbon dioxide.
However, things are not so simple. For example, if the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere is too low, a process called anaerobic respiration is activated. This produces unwanted odors and flavors in the product and cause food spoilage. In addition, excess carbon dioxide may damage some varieties of product.
In the Freshbox project, we modify the internal atmosphere of the container through membranes that control the airflow into and out of the container, considering respiration and more favorable conditions to maintain and even improve the quality of each product.
The project is currently testing and monitoring the developed prototypes. So we are validating the container with various vegetables, in this case grapes, and the results are positive.
For now, together with our partner PCTAD, we analyzed specific quality parameters of grape (respiratory activity, firmness, chlorophyll content, brix grades, presence of browning, etc.) and we have found that grapes preserved in this container are long shelf life, oxidize less and exhibit greater firmness and freshness. Not only could we increase its useful life, but also its quality over a longer time.
In addition to modifying the atmosphere inside the container, active elements selected by Aitiip in collaboration with PCTAD are being included to help improve the quality of the product containing. In this case for grapes are included compounds that help prevent diseases and disorders such as physiopathy.
Grapes in the container have a good look. We get better quality and longer shelf life.
Aitiip Technology Centre
The Aragon Technology Centre, expert in plastic value chain, is a leader in research and development of packaging and bioplastics in Europe. Besides this project, it is also coordinator of the European project Dibbiopack, whose objective is the development of bioplastics packaging for the pharma, cosmetics and food industry. On February 24 the final conference held in Zaragoza will present the results.
In addition the center also coordinates the Multibiosol project for the development of active mulching based on bioplastics.
The Programme for Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) is the financial instrument of the European Union dedicated to the environment for 2014-2020. Its overall objective is based on catalyzing changes in the development and implementation of policies by providing solutions and best practices to achieve environmental and climate goals, as well as the promotion of innovative technologies in the field of environment and climate change. It should support, also, the implementation of General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 “Living well, within the limits of our planet”.
Dra. Carolina Peñalva
R+D Department +34 976 46 45 44 (ext 104)