( StePac )

Tefen, Israel-based StePac L.A. Ltd. has new packaging that promises better freshness and appearance for long-distance shipments of bulk blueberries.

The company has created developed proprietary, polyamide-based packaging technology for keeping long-lasting freshness, according to a news release.

According to the company, the new multi-layered packaging ensures the high-value fruit arrives with its natural protective bloom intact.

The Xtend packaging solution helps resolve the common challenge faced by South American growers and exporters who export blueberries to China. According to the company, blueberries shipped in Xtend packaging arrive at destination, even after 35 days, in good condition and preserving the appearance of “bloom” — the natural powdery white wax on the surface of the fruit. The presence of bloom on blueberry imports is a sought-after characteristic by Chinese importers, according to the release.

StePac’s breathable, multilayered polyamide-based Xtend packaging regulates gas composition and relative humidity, according to the release.  That lowers the risk of condensation build-up and helps make sure that any condensation that might form within the packaging diffuses out, according to the release.

Gary Ward, technical development manager for StePac, said in the release that blueberries are often packed in polyethylene-based modified atmosphere packaging. That minimizes weight loss but often results in condensation that is trapped in the packaging. “That free moisture is an enemy of the natural bloom and is highly likely to be washed from the surface of the blueberries making it less appealing to the eye and in fact increases the risk of decay,” Ward said in the release.

“The preservation of natural bloom is a far more important parameter than slightly lower weight loss,” Ward said in the release. “It is the outward indicator of freshness and translates into higher prices for blueberries in the Chinese market.”

StePac uses a wide range of polymers with varying values, including polyethylene, for the delivery of fresh produce in different packaging formats, according to the release.

“Polyethylene-based packaging solutions are suitable for certain produce items and applications, but are an inferior solution for bulk shipment of blueberries,” Ward said in the release.