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08/01/2017 - 07:00hs

Fruit transportation is now safer

Packaging developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) in partnership with other institutes contributes to avoid waste in domestic and international shipping.

São Paulo – The waste caused by fruit handling and transportation could end soon. A project conducted by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) in partnership with the National Technology Institute (INT) and the Macromolecules Institute (IMA) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) has developed packaging made of polyurethane and vegetable fivers that follows the shape of the fruits and contribute to avoid bruises or waste during handling.

Almost a third of global food production is lost during distribution or wasted in consumption, with half of these losses occurring during handling, storage and trade, reports Embrapa based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Improper packaging contributes significantly to losses of fruits, which, transported crammed and without proper venting, get spoiled before they reached their destinations.

Press Release / National Technology Institute ?INT

The packaging can be stacked

The packaging developed by the researchers allows for a perfect fitting of the fruits, placing them side by side safely. Antonio Gomes, Embrapa’s researcher and head of the project, explains that even the different sizes of fruits were accounted for during development.

“At the time of packaging it’s possible to fit the fruits in their proper places. A larger one can be placed besides a smaller one without undermining total capacity,” he explains.

The tray-shaped packaging is made of hard material, can be stacked on pallets and have the perfect shape to fit each fruit. For now, it’s available for mango, papaya, strawberry and persimmon. “The first two for their significant sales volume, both domestic and global, and the others for their economic importance for the state of Rio de Janeiro,” said Gomes.

A pilot-export of papaya for the European market was part of the project. “The results were excellent,” says the researcher. “The fruits arrive at their destinations in Europe without bruises, or being mashed and totally protected. The pallet with the packaging was straight, didn’t have an inclination and the packaging was completely intact.”

Aline Bastos / Embrapa

The fruits fit perfectly

According to data by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Services (MDIC) compiled by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, near 18,000 tons of fruits were exported to the Arab countries from January to December of last year. The volume could be expanded with the new packaging, with them allowing for better cooling and reduced waste, something that a lot of times affect the fruit foreign trade.

The packaging company from Santa Catarina Santa Luzia is interested and has signed an agreement to begin commercial production of the trays and plastic supports. The molds already arrived at its plants – the project’s developers have lent their pieces, which require the majority of investments during production, to reduce initial costs.

But the project has not reached the end yet. According to Gomes, new fruits will be included: the development of packaging for tomatoes is ongoing, and the development for others, such as grapes and peach, are being discussed.
Each project takes, on average, four years to be concluded.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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