A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN ILIP AND THE DEPARTMENT OF FRUIT TREES AND WOODY PLANT SCIENCES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BOLOGNA, TO IMPROVE FRESH PRODUCE PACKAGING
The trials carried out on r-Pet punnets for table grapes confirm the important role played by packaging in product preservation, and provide information and objective data on the comparison between different types of punnets
BAZZANO (August, 2012) – Learning more about the effects of packaging on packaged product to improve packaging technical and functional features in order to make packaging more effective in terms of protecting and preserving the product.
With these purposes in mind – part of the ILIP strategy on Corporate Sustainability (CSR and EPR) – the company from Bazzano (in the province of Bologna) has initiated a joint project with the Department of Fruit Trees and Woody Plant Sciences of the University of Bologna. The partnership includes a series of studies on the role played by packaging in the preservation of fresh produce and on comparisons between different types of packaging, produced by ILIP as well as by its competitors.
The first results are already here, after three sessions of trials carried out in the previous months on transparent r-PET punnets for table grapes. Different models of punnets were compared in order to test how packaging influence cooling time, temperature recovery and the maintenance of the quality of the packaged product.
The trials have confirmed the fundamental role played by the ventilation holes in the upper part of the punnets, allowing the packaged product to maintain its quality for longer. On the subject of cooling time and temperature recovery time, no statistically significant differences were found related to different types of primary packaging.
Tests on cooling rate were made in a ventilated cold storage room on four couples of punnets (50 samples per each punnets totaling 400 punnets), placed in a secondary packaging (cardboard trays) and palletized.
Temperature was measured using thermocouples inserted in the pulp of grapes placed in the center of the pile of trays, and was automatically and simultaneously measured for each thermocouple by a temperature detector with data logger, at constant intervals of 4 minutes, for 70 hours. For the measurement of temperature recovery, the punnets were removed from the secondary packaging.
Results showed that the secondary packaging and their relative position on the pallet slowed down the cooling of the product, with no difference found to be related to the type of primary packaging (punnets) or to the different position of the ventilation holes.
Conservation tests compared different types of 500-gram punnets with lid, monitoring the evolution, over time, of some indexes of grape quality, such as skin elasticity, refractometric dry residue, titratable acidity and pH. In this case, results confirmed the role played by the ventilation holes in the preservation of the packaged product. No significant differences were detected between ILIP's clamshell punnet and a competitor's product, with ventilation holes positioned in a different manner.
“These are important results, in particular because they are supported by statistically significant experimental evidence, in which the experimenting process is described in a very transparent manner. And also because they suggest we should be cautious when dealing with some presumed innovations that appear in the debate regarding the type of packaging”, commented Roberto Zanichelli, ILIP's Marketing Manager. “In addition, the joint project with the Department of Fruit Trees and Woody Plant Sciences of the University of Bologna emphasizes our efforts to show how important packaging is, although it is often simply perceived as additional cost. On the contrary, taking into consideration the fact that food products, and fruit and vegetables in this specific case, are exposed to different risks along the supply chain if not suitably protected, it can be stated that packaging is a fundamental element in the reduction of food waste and its related economical and environmental consequences”.
This was the approach that led ILIP to support the Save Food Initiative, a F.A.O. and Messedüsseldorf joint project whose purpose is to face this very problem.
The cooperation between ILIP and the Department of Fruit Trees and Woody Plant Sciences of the University of Bologna proceeds with a new research, which will yield results in the upcoming fall.