Blueberries shipping from South America to Europe by sea arrived fresher thanks to Uflex's Flexfresh film packaging, according to the company. Photo courtesy Uflex Ltd.

A company based in India is looking to expand services to the U.S., with packaging options designed to prolong shelf life, allowing exporters to choose less expensive sea shipments over faster air travel.

Uflex Ltd.’s Waterless Internet Flower Packaging was recently honored by the All India Management Association as being a breakthrough process innovation in manufacturing and services, with capabilities for fresh produce.

The packaging, called Flexfresh, is a patented modified atmosphere packaging for fresh produce and floral that maintains internal humidity at about 95% without allowing excess moisture or condensation, resulting in very low weight loss, according to a news release from Uflex. 

Judges from the Indian association said Flexfresh’s capabilities have the potential to allow fresh produce exporters to ship via sea without comprising product quality, according to the release.

Flexfresh film has been tested on pomegranates, blueberries, papaya, Brussels sprouts, grapes, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, mangoes, okra, mushrooms, cut vegetables and flowers, Rohit Sharma, head of public relations and corporate social responsibility for Uflex, said in an e-mail.

“A leading Dutch bell pepper exporter has commenced shipping its produce to USA by sea containers, which was not possible earlier, and used to be sent out by air, incurring huge costs,” Sharma said in the e-mail. “The exporter is happy with the arrival quality and intends to export over 300 containers from Holland to USA this year after conducting successful trials by sea container earlier in 2015.”

A European retailer trialed Flexfresh bags on shipments of blueberries from South America to Europe, a sea journey of 5 or more weeks, Sharma said. Loose blueberries typically have an average weight loss of about 20% during the trip, but those packed in Flexfresh lost less than 1% weight during a 7-week trip, Sharma said. The fruit was also firm, without mold, he said.

Other trials have involved shipments of produce from India to the Middle East or Europe, Sharma said.

Uflex’s partner Perfotec BV serves customers in Europe and the Americas, he said.