BERLIN — An innovative banana ripening technology is seeking a foothold in the U.S.
Fruit Logistica’s 2019 Silver Innovation Award on Feb. 8 was awarded to the Softripe Ripening Technology from the German firm Frigotec. The technology won praise from trade show visitors for its energy-saving ripening technology for bananas and other tropical fruit, according to a news release.
Valdir de Bortoli, Frigotec, Landsberg, Germany, and Antoine Schele, representative of Schele Electronic, Germany, say the Softripe Ripening Technology is looking for U.S. expansion.
“We are looking for companies who will represent us in the U.S.,” Schele said Feb. 8.
The difference between the Softripe Ripening Technology and traditional ethylene ripening rooms is significant, Schele said.
“Today the classic (ripening) room is where the guy puts the bananas in the room, closes the door and puts in 500 ppm to 600 ppm ethylene,” he said. With a heavy dose of ethylene, he said the bananas are stressed and lose some of their natural smell.
The Softripe system, developed over the past five years, is a computer-controlled system that only uses 30 ppm to 40 ppm of ethylene atmosphere. “The idea is for the banana to produce ethylene themselves, so the banana is not stressed,” he said. “Everything is ripened from the inside to outside, while the classic approach the banana is ripened from the outside to the inside.”
When optimum color is reached with the Softripe system after three or four days, the computer-controlled system turns the room into a controlled atmosphere environment to extend shelf life two to three weeks, he said. Compared to classic ripening rooms, the technology requires less electricity.
“The computer does everything automatically; you don’t need a banana master, you just need an employee to put the pallet of bananas inside and a guy to start the computer,” he said. The technology also has applications with mangoes, avocados, tomatoes and kiwifruit, he said.
The company has installed Softripe rooms in several locations in Brazil, Germany and Switzerland, he said.