Landec has said that it will increase the focus for its Intellipac banana packaging technology programme by expanding its sourcing.
The company said that it will be qualifying reliable banana sourcing from five primary banana producing countries in Central and South America by working directly with large, multinational banana shipping companies to ensure consistent quality, year round.
In addition, the company is focusing its short-term efforts for its Intellipac banana packaging technology on opportunities which include additional market segments such as the food service market whose needs can be currently met with Landec's existing Intellipac technology and banana sourcing.
"During the past twelve months, Landec has made substantial progress in broadly developing its packaging technology for bananas. In this time period, we have progressed from laboratory testing to market trials and first commercial sales," said Gary Steele, Landec's president and CEO. "We have reached a point where we are unable to provide adequate supply of high quality bananas using our Intellipac packaging technology to our first retail grocery customer or prospective new retail customers due to inconsistent quality of fruit sourced from our current banana growing regions.
"As a result, large-scale commercial sales to our first retail grocery customer will be suspended while we qualify multiple source countries and banana suppliers using our technology. We hope to resume shipments in the near future using our packaging technology with expanded sources of supply. While we are working on qualifying new sources of bananas, we will continue to optimise our Intellipac banana technology for large-scale retail grocery store applications."
Landec will continue to conduct market trials with several retailers and banana companies while increasing its presence with food service customers.
"Landec's banana packaging is significant for extending banana shelf life and enhanced colour uniformity and we want to make sure that our technology is optimised for each important application. Over the last ten months, we have incurred considerable incremental expense to expand our banana sourcing and have conducted expanded laboratory and market trials in order to capitalise on this opportunity. These incremental efforts will have a negative impact of approximately $1.7 million to $2.0 million (€1.75m to €2.05m) on Landec's fiscal year 2002 results most of which were incurred through Landec's first three fiscal quarters.
"We are convinced that to serve the retail grocerymarket long-term, which represents approximately 200 million cartons per year of banana sales, we will need to work with multiple international banana companies where sourcing and logistics capabilities are already well-established. In the meantime, markets such as food service represent areas we can serve immediately and where we are now selling and shipping products commercially," commented Steele.
Landec Corporation develops temperature-activated and other speciality polymer products for a variety of food, agricultural and licensed partner applications. The company's temperature- activated polymer products are based on its proprietary Intelimer polymers, which differ from other polymers in that they can be customised to abruptly change their physical characteristics when heated above or cooled below a preset temperature switch.