How Plastic Pallets Help Protect Strawberry Profits
04 Jul 2016
Strawberries are one of the nation’s favourite fruits and a real sign that summer has arrived. But the race to get these highly perishable fruits from the fields to the supermarket shelves requires a tightly organised supply chain that can shift the fruit from grower to seller without degrading it.
Strawberries are particularly prone to fungus, and because they’re normally packed into boxes and punnets, one bad fruit can rapidly spoil the whole punnet. And if one fruit has mould, it’s likely that many other packs are affected.
Fighting Strawberry Spoilage
So how can growers, shippers and supermarkets make sure that they don’t lose money through spoilage? One of the problems with strawberries is that they are still alive when they are picked. This means that they are “breathing” – producing that lovely smell. However, they are also producing heat as a result of this respiration, and this produces ideal conditions for mould to grow. If the strawberry is bruised or damaged, it is likely to decay more quickly. Similarly, if the strawberry stalk has been lost, they will also be more prone to decay.
So the picking has to be carefully done, and as soon as they are picked the berries need to be cooled so that they don’t continue to ripen. They mustn’t be allowed to warm up again because this causes condensation and encourages rot, allowing the two bad guys of strawberry transportation to move in. The first is grey mould and the second is known as rhizopus decay. These are fast operators, rapidly spreading and multiplying to spoil an entire pack.
Cooling the strawberries has to be done quickly. They can’t simply be placed in a cold store and allowed to chill slowly, because this would tend to cool the outer fruits more than those at the centre. Cooled air is used to effect a fast reduction in temperature. However, the humidity of the air in the storage room has to be controlled. These fussy little fruits don’t like air that is too dry – it causes them to release water, and they collapse into a dehydrated shrivelled husk. The water that has evaporated from the berries can then condense on to the surrounding packaging, further encouraging mould growth.
Pallets Resist Mould and Damp
Plastic containers and plastic pallets are the answer to a lot of these problems. They are damp, mould, water infestation resistant, so ideal for strawberries. Euro pallets come in standard sizes, so stackable Euro pallets and containers are used worldwide during the soft fruit season. They are definitely the best way to keep the fruit in great condition until it arrives on the supermarket shelves, protecting the profits the growers have earned from growing this great-tasting but delicate berry.