Chilean researchers develop bag to extend avocado shelf life

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Chilean researchers develop bag to extend avocado shelf life

Researchers from Chile's Catholic University of Valparaiso (PUCV) have developed a plastic bag that will allow avocado exports to travel on longer journeys. At we speak with PUCV professor Pedro Undurraga about the new product's benefits and potential.

Undurraga says a private bag manufacturer approached the university's Faculty of Agronomy to test different types of bags on fruit, with the aim of improving travel conditions and maintaining quality.

"In general we have always looked for ways so that the avocados can last longer because the current postharvest duration is very limited for distant markets like Japan," says the agronomist.

"There has been work on it for two years, with successes and failures."

The bag, which is still undergoing tests and awaiting patents, is made of polyolefins and generates a modified atmosphere. Its structure is permeable in a limited way to some gases that are generated within the bag, ensuring the required level of oxygen.

"The benefits are that it extends the useful life of the avocado by more than double in refrigerated storage, and at higher temperatures than those that are currently used, so there is also an energy saving there," says Undurraga.

"It practically doesn't lose weight in a long period of cold storage, and so, as fruit is sold on its weight, this favors keep that weight for sale in international markets."

He said there were already export companies that had shown interest in the technology, which had begun collaboration work to research its elements to help continue the study.

"We expect to have a large amount of answers within the present season."

He says the bags have been used with other fruits but more testing is needed.

"It has worked effectively with pears and is being tested with other fruits.

"The research of this type of packaging creates a lot of expectations in generating an international market for our (Chilean) fruit, more free of surprises because of shipping delays on arrival or to the destination, or due to the fall in prices at some point in the international market because the fruit will not be forced into auction before it spoils."

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