PISMO BEACH, Calif. — Cellresin Technologies will soon bring the same ripening inhibitor that apples and pears have benefited from for years to dozens of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Speaking at the 2019 Cal Poly freshPACKmoves conference, Jon Fobes, president of Cellresin Technologies LLC, said the company is waiting on expected Environmental Protection Agency approval to use 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) in packing materials for a wide range of fruits and vegetables. The technology can add about a week of shelf life to most fruits and vegetables, he said.
The company expects EPA registration in the third or fourth quarter of 2020, he said.
Branded SmartFresh by AgroFresh, 1-MCP has been used since 2004 in cold storage rooms to block ethylene receptor sites on apples and other commodities to inhibit the ripening process.
Now, Fobes said Cellresin — not affiliated with AgroFresh — has patented technology that expands the safe application of 1-MCP in fresh produce packaging materials.
According to the company website, the technology allows a granular deployment of non-disruptive 1-MCP technology and avoids the capital investment in storage rooms.
Introduced for used on apples in 2004, 1-MCP has transformed the marketing of apples, Fobes said.
“In 2004, when 1-MCP was introduced apples were harvested in October and they were all sold by May or April,” he said.
The introduction of 1-MCP, marketed by AgroFresh as SmartFresh, has changed all that.
With 1-MCP now applied to about 70% of U.S. apples in cold storage rooms, Fobes said apples treated at harvest can last 12 months.
“It has really changed the apple industry all over the world,” he said, noting that apple consumption worldwide has increased about 50% since 2000.
“The size of the apple display area is probably 10 times larger today than it was in 2004 with the opportunity to buy five to 10 varieties of apples in July and August compared with just the red delicious apples if you could buy apples at all,” he said.
Fobes said the technology can reduce waste.
One of the most significant reasons why fruits and vegetables are not consumed, he said, is that ethylene causes them to ripen and become undesirable.
“All fruits and vegetables get overripe because of the fruit’s or vegetable’s response to ethylene,” he said.
Because 1-MCP treatment leaves no residue, the Food and Drug Administration designates it as “generally regarded as safe.”
Because most fresh produce crops are not put in sealed chambers, they previously have not been suitable for treatment by 1-MCP, he said.
But with Cellresin, scientists have invented a way to coat 1-MCP on packaging materials.
“It can be coated on films, it can be put on labels, it can be put on paper can be put on the inside of a cardboard box,” he said. In addition, the 1-MCP in Cellresin technology has been formulated in way so that it does not release the 1-MCP until there is produce in the box. That means the packaging is shelf stable, he said.
The packaging requires the humid environment created by fruits and vegetables to be released. The release of 1-MCP starts about two hours after packing and is all released by 24 hours, he said.
The Cellresin technology has been shown to add about seven days of shelf life to a variety of fresh produce commodities.
One of the key areas of commercial potential is using Cellresin technology to pack and ship broccoli without ice, Fobes said.