With its trademarked Fresh-R-Pax ‘Fruit Pop’ pouch (pictured) set to make its debut at the Fresh Conex show in Berlin on February 8, the company’s MD Matthew Valentine told FoodProductionDaily.com that single-serve fruit was booming as a category across Europe.
He said: “If you speak to industry experts then they’d tell you that the category’s been growing year-on-year for the last 15 years. Where we help is by improving the eating experience – and there have been issues on cut-fruit categories with single-purchase consumers – and helping processors and retailers extend shelf life."
The very proper desire to cut packaging waste had the unwanted side-effect that ‘packaging’ had “almost become a dirty word”, Valentine noted.
He said: “We’re trying to educate retailers and consumers that, yes, this is additional packaging, but it also has benefits that can help to reduce shrinkage and wastage. It’s not just packaging for packaging’s sake.”
Asked how the Fruit Pop extended shelf life, he said: “It’s a very simple technology that doesn’t involve an additive or preservative. Our product is simply an absorbent.”
If you went into any UK retail outlet and looked at cut melon and pineapple packs (target fruits for the product) Valentine explained, then you would see that they contained a good percentage of free liquids in the bottom of punnets.
He said: “We know that if you allow cut fruit to sit in its own juice, this affects the quality and the shelf life. Keep the cut fruit dry by simply absorbing that excess liquid, and locking it away from contact with the cut fruit, then you improve the shelf life.
“You can benefit the taste, colour and texture of the fruit itself, as well as provide another couple of days of shelf life. Fresh fruit is mainly water, and if you allow it to sit in its own juice then it will just continue to pump out liquid for the life of the product,” he added.
“Keep it dry for the first 24-48 hours, it will dramatically reduce the amount of purge it releases, and the fruit will retain a higher moisture content.”
Valentine confirmed that Baltimore Innovations had worked on the pouch for several years ahead of its launch late last year, initially onto the US market; the company is targeting customers in the convenience store sector, as well as retail sales with children’s snack and school lunch lines.
Development challenges were several, Valentine said: “Not only to make it [the pouch] cost-effective, but also to develop packaging machinery around the pouch: one side of our pouch is the absorbent material.
“We can’t provide the product, for example, in a roll of film, where most people would basically take the film of that to make the bag. That isn’t possible with our ready-made pouch.
He added: “We had to develop a system whereby we put the ready-made pouches on a perforated roll, and develop it with a vertical form fill seal machine that would take them, open the pouches, fill and seal them.”