Victoria, Minn.-based It’sFresh! Inc., has invested $16 million in developing technology to absorb ethylene at multiple temperatures and humidity levels.
The technology helps extend the freshness and quality of a variety of fruits, including strawberries, tomatoes, stone fruit and avocados, said Greg Pavett, president and founder of It’sFresh!.
At the packinghouse, growers place It’sFresh! sheets, which are small and as thin as Tyvek coded labels, in the bottoms of clamshells, cartons and returnable plastic containers.
Pavett said installation of the sheets — 1.75 inches square for clamshells and 5 inches by 7.5 inches for cartons and RPCs — doesn’t cause any changes to a grower’s production processes.
Growers only drop the sheets into the containers, he said.
Pavett said retailers pay a 2-cent to 4-cent per pound premium to growers that covers the cost of installation.
“If you look at the industry, it’s spending or wasting far greater than 2 to 4 cents a pound or clamshell,” Pavett said. “We started based on the unmet need of extending quality in produce.
“As we got more and more into the industry, we understood the retailer has a massive problem in that these growers are working hard to deliver this beautiful fruit, but it gets to the retailer and collapses. By the time the consumer buys it, its quality isn’t what it was like at the growing level.”
Pavett said the technology has proven to reduce in-store waste by a minimum of 25%.
He cited a study by Plant Sciences Inc., a Watsonville, Calif.-based agriculture research service, that found the It’sFresh! technology delivered more than twice the amount of “definitely would eat” berries to a shopper’s home. The study also found the technology displayed a noticeable difference between fruit packed using the sheets compared to the control fruit.
In 2010, It’sFresh! began introducing the technology to retailers in Chile and the United Kingdom, and the technology is being used by a large U.S.-based retailer, Pavett said.
He said another major U.S. retailer is considering using it for strawberries.
In 2005, It’sFresh! partnered with Birmingham, England-based parent company Food Freshness Technology.