NETHERLANDS – Perfo Tec, a modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) supplier in the fresh produce industry, is employing laser micro-perforation technology to improve the quality and shelf life of packaged fresh products.

“Retailers are currently hugely concerned with saving and sustainability. A welcome development for this Dutch company that, by using laser micro-perforation technology, modifies the packages’ atmosphere that improves the packaged fresh product’s quality and shelf life, thus matching that retail development. 

“Fresh fruits and vegetables still ‘breathe’ even after being harvested. That causes moisture and CO2 to circulate in a package, precipitating as acidic condensation. That can spoil the product,” says Annette Hardeman, PerfoTec’s Financial Director.

She noted that removing that moisture and CO2 improves the packaged product’s quality and extends its shelf life. 

“And that’s a huge saving for the whole chain. Less food is wasted, which means less land is needed to grow the same quantity for retail. You also need fewer transportation boxes and less labor. All that reduces CO2 emissions,” says Annette.

She points out that laser micro-perforation technology can significantly extend products’ shelf life. 

PerfoTec research found that using this method extends, for example, the shelf life of spinach from seven to 21 days.

Laser micro-perforation creates – just enough – air exchange between the bag’s inside and the outside environment to stabilize and slow down the packaged fresh products’ respiration rate. Those products lay dormant, thus increasing their shelf life. 

“This highly innovative technique doesn’t affect the product in any way. It focuses purely on the packaging. The laser micro-perforations, tuned to the product’s specific respiration rate, affect only the atmosphere, without adding anything to the product or packaging,” explains Annette.

She adds that, based on studies and tests, this method can be tailored to the needs of all fruits, vegetables, and flowers and that PerfoTec’s solution is suitable for all packaging lines. 

“We have solutions for bulk transport of vegetables, fruits, and flowers too. The company has bags for cherries, blueberries, avocados, and mangoes,” she said.

PerfoTec has now created LinerBags specifically for bananas.

“Our research showed that these bags can extend these products’ shelf life throughout the chain by three weeks. And that, for instance, organic bananas’ paper bands – which are applied around the bunches at the grower’s premises – stay dry. That can save plenty of handling further down the line,” Hardeman says.

She claims that since retailers are the final link in the chain, their use of these LinerBags will have the most obvious impact on food waste.

However, Annette argues that laser micro-perforating can be advantageous for the whole chain.

She points out that handling expenses for bananas, for example, can be drastically decreased across the chain.

“When using traditional bags, the bananas often have to be repacked. That’s for quality selection and to prevent further spoilage; that’s not necessary with the PerfoTec LinerBags. These bags are also ethylene permeable, so they can be used in ripening cells. That ensures more even ripening, color and firmness-wise,” notes Annette. 

PerfoTec provides compostable or recyclable film solutions based on customer requirements and waste streams.

These LinerBags cost a little more than regular bags. Despite its benefits all along the chain, if one compares simply this, it hinders the usage of laser micro-perforation technology.

Annette thinks it’s crucial to present the overall picture to supply chain partners in addition to doing comparative studies.

“Using the LinerBags not only leads to better quality bananas, that, in itself offers a price advantage. But at growers, packers, and retailers, it saves handling costs, waste, and the associated CO2 and methane emissions, too,” she concludes.

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