A new research study by the Ontario Berry Growers’ Association (OBGA) shows that modified atmosphere storage can lengthen the shelf life of berries while maintaining their fresh, high quality.
Shelf life a challenge
According to the OBGA, the on-farm storage system can extend the shelf life of strawberries and raspberries by at least three to four days. Storage and quality have always been challenging issues when it comes to fresh berries. By increasing the reliability and freshness of fruit when it comes to market, it’s hoped that consumers will choose the local fruit more often.
When using modified atmosphere storage technology, gases in the berry storages are adjusted so that oxygen levels are reduced and carbon dioxide levels are increased. The change in atmosphere slows further ripening and decomposition in already ripe berries.
Technology is easily adapted
Kevin Schooley, executive secretary of the OBGA, says the technology can be easily used by farms with large storage facilities, and can be adapted to fit over individual pallets of berries for smaller operations. “Farmers are picking berries six or seven days a week in season, but it can be hard to match picking to the timing demands of retailers who want fresh berries only at certain times,” he explains. “For growers, this new storage method is a way to better match up the demands of their customers with availability.”
The Ontario Research and Development (ORD) program supported the research with $10,872 in funding. ORD is a $2.5-million, two-year initiative by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council, a coalition of 69 agricultural, agribusiness and rural organizations. The initiative was established with the goal of promoting long-term sustainability in the agriculture and agri-food industry.