Fresh Blueberry Exports from North America
Blueberries can be highly susceptible to decay from airborne and surface microorganisms that are often present in storage or transport environments. When stored under standard chilled atmosphere conditions, blueberries will typically only last 10-18 days, dramatically limiting the ability to economically transport them over long distances. This short storage life forces many international blueberry exporters to make strategic decisions with transport technology methods and practices to reach a broader, global market. For example, with ocean transport, it is not uncommon for blueberries to be transported inside a marine reefer container for 10-15 days, which leaves only a few days for marketability. As the global market continues to expand, growers and those in the import/export trade, are not only looking for better, more economical methods to transport blueberries, they are often seeking ways to keep their blueberries looking and tasting fresh for longer periods of time, without utilizing undesirable chemicals.
Blueberries are an important agricultural product in North America and other world regions due to their high market profitability and nutritional value. Blueberries are highly perishable and normally are marketed soon after harvest. Controlled atmosphere (CA) storage and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) have been used historically to extend the market shelf life for fresh blueberries. In more recent years the most forward thinking blueberry export companies have been using a special ozone enhanced controlled atmosphere process for the storage and export shipping of blueberries from the United States and Canada.
Ozone enhanced controlled atmosphere allows blueberry exporters to reach destinations with up to 25-30 days of ocean container transport time, and deliver their fruit with confidence that the high-quality standards of their products will be maintained. Controlling decay, maintaining a strong “bloom”, and minimizing shrivel during ocean transport is critical. One of the top improvements that ozone enhanced controlled atmosphere provides compared to older controlled atmosphere technologies is the ability to maintain a more original and natural taste of the blueberries. Additionally, blueberries can be highly susceptible to low amounts of ambient ethylene, and ozone also scientifically reacts and eliminates ethylene upon molecular contact.
Food safety is also an issue that has become a critical challenge for many blueberry and fresh fruit companies. When growers and exporters use atmosphere storage technologies that apply ozone to their products, they are providing one of the best natural and organic solutions to dramatically reduce the risk of food pathogens such as E.coli, salmonella, and listeria from coming in contact with consumers. This is a top benefit from ozone enhanced atmospheres.
For land based, warehouse storage of blueberries, growers and exporters have several options of companies that supply ozone enhanced atmosphere systems, but currently there is only one company that provides ozone enhanced controlled atmosphere for international ocean container transport, and that company is Purfresh, based in San Francisco California.
To maximize efficacy, the Purfresh system integrates with the export ocean container's refrigeration unit to precisely control and evenly distribute ozone (O3), increased CO2, and decreased O2, throughout the cargo. Unlike other approaches such as traditional controlled atmosphere and modified atmosphere bags, Purfresh provides live, full trip, atmospheric data transparency. Ozone enhanced controlled atmosphere allows exporters to control expenses, reduce losses, and build buyer loyalty from higher-quality produce. These types of new technologies can help maintain great tasting fruit quality, through economical, low carbon footprint shipping methods, to worldwide destinations, that were previously out of reach.
More information about Purfresh can be found at:
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