Chambers critical in extending blueberry shelf-life during storage

From Fresh Plaza | 12 October 2023

Overview of blueberries from Peru in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on October 10, 2023.

Demand for blueberries stayed high, but the supply of quality blueberries was at an all-time low after the Pacific Northwest harvest season ended in late summer. The anticipated volumes from South America did not arrive as expected to fill the gap. Reports revealed that this shortage was due to the adverse effects of El Niño in Peru, bringing hotter temperatures, which affected production volumes.

This resulted in a dramatic 64 percent decline in exports of blueberries from Peru into the United States as compared to the corresponding period last year.

blueberry volumes by his 5

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Having used RipeLockers for season extension of its blueberries in the past, Washington blueberry grower Oasis Farms, Inc. benefited this year by being able to sell its entire supply stored in the chambers to a high-end retailer searching for inventory to fill the shelves. RipeLockers not only held blueberries in premium condition but also helped to sustain and increase the grower’s margins outside of the normal selling season, fetching a much higher price per pound.

Though an unfortunate situation, the shortage of blueberries this year created a huge opportunity to demonstrate the value of RipeLocker’s patented postharvest technology for growers to store and extend the season of quality fruit to provide inventory to retailers for longer periods.

“This was a win-win situation. We were able to season extend high-quality shipments, which greatly benefited the customer, us, and ultimately, the consumer. Today’s produce world is extremely dynamic and difficult to accurately predict. The supply chain needs every tool possible to adapt to a rapidly changing market environment. RipeLocker is one of those tools,” says Brenton Roy, president of Oasis Farms, Inc.

RipeLocker chambers offer a patented system to manage the atmospheric pressure, humidity, and gas composition (oxygen and CO2) within the chambers to extend the life of fresh produce and flowers. Based on the specific needs of each type of fresh produce or flower, it tailors operating parameters, such as internal pressure, oxygen, and CO² levels, to optimize longevity and freshness. The system responds to changes in the storage or shipping environment, making automatic adjustments to prevent damage and reduce decay.

RipeLocker designed its pallet-sized chambers so that they can easily be deployed and used in the existing cold chain. Produced using novel materials and scalable manufacturing processes, the chamber can be delivered cost-effectively in mass volume. RipeLocker has patents on both the chamber design and method of operation.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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