The aim is to help open new export markets and ensure European companies stay competitive by being able to reduce fresh fruit’s losses.
The focus will be around fresh-cut orange and pineapple to address specific weak points in their shelf life through pre-packaging treatment and active packaging systems.
Minimal processing and active packaging
Easyfruit, which runs until the end of next year, aims to combine the minimal processing treatments and develop an active packaging for fresh cut fruit that extends the shelf life of peeled and cut fruit for three to five days longer than current technologies.
The consortium identified Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), dipping the fruit in an active solution, and edible coatings as current processes but added that none of the techniques provided a definitive solution to cut fruit as they only provide slight increases in shelf life.
Minimal processing treatments will be combined with liberation of active compounds and incorporated to the package polymer matrix or as a coating.
The packaging formulation and the active species will be selected and optimised for each fruit type, because each fruit has a specific route to deterioration, and the mechanisms that lead to the end of shelf life are different.
So the pre-packaging treatments and active packaging systems would address the specific weak points in the shelf life of each specific packed fruit, in this case of the pineapple and the oranges.
The companies (Productos Landia, Slice Fruit, Spektar, Omniform, Centros Comerciales, Carrefour), and research centers (ITENE and NOFIMA) are creating this innovative active packaging for extended shelf life of peeled and cut fruit.
Fresh peeled fruit ready-to-eat and easily portable would be a solution for those who find in preparing and cutting this product an inconvenient, or those who have difficulties to peel it, said the consortium.
However, peeled and cut fruit has too short of a shelf life which makes immediate consumption mandatory once it is peeled.
The project brief said consumers expect minimally processed fruit to be attractive, nutritious and to exhibit high quality and long shelf life, with no differences in flavour and texture from the original product.
These expectations are difficult to meet, said the consortium, since minimally processed commodities undergo rapid deterioration that causes loss of texture and water, as well as undesirable changes in flavour and colour.