Banana ripening technology advances - The Packer

Banana ripening technology advances

02/27/2012 12:34:00 PM
Coral Beach

Consumers believe they are better equipped to judge the ripeness of bananas, compared to other fresh produce, but they are likely unaware of the high-tech ripening processes bananas undergo before they hit retail shelves.

According to The Packer’s 2012 Fresh Trends survey, released in late February, 78% of consumers responding said they felt comfortable selecting ripe bananas at the store. No other commodity scored that high.

The survey also revealed seven out of 10 banana consumers said they know how to ripen the fruit at home. Despite that, research and development of better ripening techniques continues, with an eye on allowing retailers to better manage their banana programs.

At Dade Service Corp., Daytona Beach, Fla., flexibility is a driving force when it comes to banana ripening rooms. Using Daserco brand patented pressurized ripening systems, Dade builds customized ripening facilities.

Courtesy Dade Service Corp.These three-tiered banana ripening rooms are just one example of the various ripening room configurations available from Dade Service Corp.Ashley Perryman, marketing and sales coordinator at Dade, said banana ripening rooms can be built in one-, two- or three-tier configurations.

The rooms can be built to handle from one to 100 pallets of bananas. Single- and dual-control options are available, and a rapid-cool feature provides increased flexibility.

One example of the tarpless Dade ripening rooms in use is Coast Tropical, Los Angeles, where a 50-room ripening facility is located, Perryman said. Chiquita Brands, Cincinnati, also uses Dade ripening rooms.

Cutting ripening costs

Even with custom-sized rooms, Jim Still of Global Cooling Inc., said ripening costs can be better managed with the use of ethylene sensors. Still said ethylene sensors are the next step in the evolution of banana ripening.

“Using sensors to gas bananas or other fruit to 100 parts per million — some are going as low as 20 ppm — saves on ethylene costs, and prevents excess gas from contaminating other products in the warehouse,” Still said.

Still said the sensors are not yet widely used in the U.S. but are common in the European Union and elsewhere.

“Our customers in South Korea and Australia, and Coliman Pacific in Phoenix are all using ethylene sensors to control gassing with great success,” Still said.

Courtesy Global CoolingFor about $25,000 each, Global Cooling can transform refrigerated trailers into portable ripening rooms such as this one.“There has been a bit of a learning curve, in that the sensors need to be recalibrated periodically, but that small inconvenience is helping to preserve tens of thousands of dollars of value in preserving freshness of other stored produce in the same warehouse.”

In addition to the ethylene sensors, Still and Global Cooling Inc., Media, Pa., have developed a portable ripening unit used in Jamaica.

The portable units are made by converting a 40-foot refrigerated container into a 10-pallet ripening unit. The conversion costs about $25,000 per 40-foot unit.

“This is an extremely competitive price for 10-pallet ripening capability,” Still said.

“We have a lot of interest from developing countries, especially India, but interest from the U.S. has been slow to build.”



Comments (6) Leave a comment 

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Marcos    
Michigan  |  February, 28, 2012 at 06:29 AM

The challenge is delivering consistence to the consumer.

Jim    
Yomama  |  February, 28, 2012 at 07:19 AM

Consistency

Frits Popma    
The Netherlands  |  February, 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM

25.000 dollars for how many containers ?

Coral Beach    
February, 28, 2012 at 05:56 PM

Jim Still said it is about $25,000 for each container.

Stan Franaszek    
Austria  |  March, 02, 2012 at 03:31 AM

Chiquita started use of Ehtylene sensors in ripening rooms for banana ripening somewhen around 1995 and the objective wasn't and isn't cutting of costs. Anybody has view into ripening cost knew that 50% of the cost are labour cost, energy is doing about 10 till 15% and Ethylene gas stay on level of 0,05% of total ripening cost. Use of Ethylene sensor has main objective in increase of process safety and not cost. More questions letme know. best regards, Stan PS: Jim is learning very quickly, but soemtimes loos view on target!!

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