Fruit cooling in the field

Salinas, CA, US: NaturipeFarms has  tested and is currently utilising a new concept which moves strawberries more quickly to customers by streamlining the pick–to-cool time. This results in extended shelf life of strawberries by 1-2 days for retailer and foodservice operators and lengthening the “taste life”, when flavour and taste are at its best.

“In 2010 we conducted several research projects to address the areas where we could positively impact strawberry quality, condition, shelf life and most importantly the taste and eating experience,” said Rich Amirsehhi, chief executive of Naturipe Berry Growers which owns NatureripeFarms.

“As growers we have long known that quickly removing the field heat from a harvested strawberry is crucial to preserving berry freshness and quality. In collaboration with American Cooling , we took a different approach to berry cooling and developed new technologies for strawberry cooling that can start as soon as 30 minutes after harvest.”

NaturipeFarms has tested and is currently utilising a new concept which moves strawberries more quickly to customers by streamlining the pick–to-cool time

The strawberries are cooled to 32°F in a self-contained, portable Cold@Field berry cooling plant, which is placed at the entrance to the Naturipe Berry Growers field. The customers’ trailer pulls right up to the temperature controlled loading dock, eliminating storage time, reduced handling and temperature variations, and speeds up loading. Mr. Amirsehhi added, “The early results have surpassed our expectations and we intend to expand the number of Cold@Field units where it is appropriate.”

Dr Jim Thompson with Postharvest Engineering, a former professor from UC Davis in Post-Harvest Engineering assisted the Naturipe team. “There are many factors that impact strawberry quality – temperature influences moisture loss and respiration rates. For every 20°F drop in temperature the moisture loss is cut in half and the respiration rate is reduced by a factor of 2-3.”

Dr. Thompson says:“Those are very significant numbers, the faster you shut down moisture loss and respiration the sooner shriveling and metabolism slow down, meaning less loss of the sugars and acids that give strawberries their unique flavor”

“Our Cold@Field systems are modular /portable to move from district to district as the harvest progresses. We designed this to run very fast and efficiently with high airflow rates for consistent cooling. Automated pallet handling means less opportunities for bruising and a temperature controlled loading dock avoids temperature variations” said Michael Azzopardi, president, American Cooling.

“Naturipe worked very closely with our engineering team to develop a fully integrated system that is designed to extend shelf life and quality of their berries, yet it is a practical field based solution for their growers”

Rich Amirsehhi says: “We are taking proactive measures at all levels of our organization to focus on delivering great tasting berries. From proprietary varieties, to innovative packaging, improved production methods and new post-harvest technologies such as Cold@Field, our goal is to increase the speed to market, reduce shrink throughout the supply chain, and improve the “taste life – giving consumers more time to enjoy Naturipe strawberries.”