ARTICLE: Perfect packaging for preservation

Those wanting a health check for fresh produce packaging need look no further than the JSB Group/Halden Packaging alliance. Gill Loubser from Packaging and Print Media, (ZA) uncovers the detail.

Is your packaging optimised? This is the vital question asked -and answered- by JSB Group’s Jeffrey Brandenburg and his associates when they are assessing suitable fresh produce packaging.

Thanks to many years’ experience in both technical and business aspects of the flexible packaging industry, the JSB Group offers South Africa’s fresh produce growers and retailers are able to find answers to complex scientific questions. ‘What we offer is a health check for packaging. Is the packaging ideal for a specific application? If not, what should be done about it? We check the physiology of fresh produce and the optimal atmosphere needed to extend its shelf life.’ So explains Jeffrey Brandenburg, president of the US-based JSB Group. ‘Combined with resources provided by our affiliates, colleagues and contacts. we deliver an in-depth service to address any produce and food packaging challenge. Our goal is to be the technology resource for the flexible packaging industry,’ he asserts. Underlining this contention, another person present at our meeting in Cape Town is Peter Halperin of Paarden Eiland-based Halden Packaging, who acts as the local arm of the JSB Group. With a strong background in food technology and sanitation, Peter provides professional local back-up when JSB Group is engaged in consultations with South African converters and retailers. As Jeffrey puts it: ‘We can do the science, but we need somebody here in South Africa who can communicate with our clients on day-to-day business matters. Peter is that person.’ And, as Peter adds: ‘We act as a conduit – bringing the latest global flexible packaging science and technology to the attention of the local packaging community. Whatever is being done for JSB’s clients on a global basis is immediately known here.’ A particular focus is on MAP (modified atmosphere packaging), a technology in constant demand in South Africa for a myriad fresh products destined for local and export markets. One converter who has worked closely with the JSB Group and Haldan Packaging is Dean Gianni of Durban-based Packaging World. In Dean’s experience, close collaboration is needed between growers/packers and packaging suppliers to reap the full benefits of MAP, and he’s quick to endorse the benefits of working with scientists at the JSB Group and appreciative of the local backing from Halden Packaging.

The ‘science’ behind fresh
Looking at the science behind the design of fresh produce packaging, Jeff notes the convergence of three distinct sciences – produce physiology, polymer engineering and converting technology. MAP for fresh produce is complicated, as produce in the bag continues to respire, consuming 0 2 and giving off C~. To design and optimise MAP, produce respiration rates (RR) must first be quantifies. It’s here that collaboration with Deirdre Holcroft (Holcroft Postharvest Consulting) has resulted in a relatively simple RR quantification procedure that includes the ability to perform on-site or laboratory tests for RR on multiple raw materials simultaneously. Properly designed, the pack allows the internal atmosphere to modify passively until an optimal final modified atmosphere is achieved. Active gas flushing in produce packaging is an augmentation technology only used in certain situations, eg to prevent enzymatic browning in Iceberg or Romaine lettuce. MAP, combined with proper post-harvest handling procedures and temperature control management, can have a positive impact on the quality and shelf-life of fresh produce. However, there are some limitations, as Jeff Brandenburg points out. ‘MAP is only effective if there’s consistent temperature management throughout a product’s entire life cycle. Lack of temperature control results in physiological variations, particularly respiration, that have an impact on effectiveness. For example, if MAP is designed for 10″C but held at s•c then it takes longer to achieve an effective atmosphere because the RR is lower. If it’s stored at 20″C then RR increases and the product can go anaerobic, affecting quality, causing off-flavours and decreasing shelf life.’ Wide range of scientific advice But it’s not only on MAP matters on which the JSB Group offers expert scientific advice. The overall aim is to be acknowledged as the leading technology resource for the entire flexible packaging, fresh produce and general food packaging sectors by 86 ~ PRCHRGitm & Print Media providing technical, sales, marketing, market research, training, and management support. ‘This broad mission statement is being accomplished through our expertise in a wide variety of packaging and equipment technologies,’ Jeff remarks in summing up. ‘These include fresh cut produce, MAP, barrier packaging, peelable lidding structures, forming materials, microwaveable packaging and stand-up pouch technology. We’re happy to be questioned on any of these technologies.’

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ARTICLE: Using Packaging as a Technology Branding & Marketing Tool

by Jeffrey Brandenburg

Technology as a marketing tool

When the industry thinks of marketing and branding with respect to packaging the first aspect which comes to mind is graphics, artwork, printing and advertising. Certainly there are numerous companies, campaigns and even industries that are involved in the visual branding and marketing of fresh cut produce. The importance of graphics and visualization of the packaged product on the retails shelf cannot be over stated; however this is only part of the “total branding and marketing package” if you will. Technology can in fact be just as effective in branding and marketing fresh produce.

As important as graphic appeal is, there is no substitute for the freshness safety and quality of the produce itself as a branding advertising and marketing tool. Since packaging technology is one of the key sciences, along with postharvest physiology, behind optimizing fresh produce quality and shelf life; one can make the argument that packaging technology is not only a science but also a branding and marketing tool.

As has been previously discussed by the author modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) when combined with proper post-harvest handling procedures and temperature control management can have a positive impact on the quality and shelf life of fresh produce. Specifically reducing O2 concentrations below about 10% around many fresh fruits and vegetables slows their respiration rate and indirectly slows the rates at which they ripen, age and decay. In addition reducing the O2 concentration can, in some cases, reduce oxidative browning reactions which can be of particular concern in precut leafy vegetables.

Elevated CO2 can, like reduced O2, slow respiration thereby extending shelf life; although the effects of elevated CO2 on respiration are not as dramatic as those of low O2 (Kader et al., 1988). CO2 at relatively high concentration (> 10%) has been shown to suppress the growth of a number of decay-causing fungi and bacteria.   However too much CO2 can be damaging to plant tissues and individual fruits and vegetables differ in their tolerance to CO2. In other words just by its impact on the gas levels within the package proper MAP certainly can be viewed as an effective marketing and branding tool.

Science and Technology

However today produce packaging can provide much more than just internal atmosphere modification. If we think of MAP as a technology platform by which we can attach additional fundamental sciences and technologies we can begin to see the full benefit of produce packaging technology. Some of the technologies that are currently being actively pursued, developed and commercialized include:

  • Antimicrobial packaging
  • Breathable rigid containers
  • Liquid, humidity, high WVTR management packaging
  • Peelable resealable packaging
  • Active gas modification packaging
  • Nanotechnology incorporated into packaging
  • Ethylene management
  • Unique size and geometry packaging
  • Package gas transmission rate quantification( including perforations)
  • Sustainable Packaging

Although many of these technologies have been around and certainly have been discussed for some time there have been new breakthroughs and developments which elevate to a new level the capabilities and possibilities of todays produce modified atmosphere package.

Incorporation of these new technologies into produce packaging will allow not only for the overall optimization of quality and shelf life but also be able to attack specific challenges currently faced by the industry.

 Challenges including:

  • Chill chain management
  • Condensation
  • Purge management
  • Whole produce packaging
  • Food Safety
  • Ethylene management
  • Floral products
  • Packaging throughout the supply chain
  • Sustainable Packaging
  • Global Ocean transport

Synergy

If you truly want to optimize the marketing and branding of your produce items then be sure to look beyond the graphics of the packaging and incorporate into your produce development process the latest in packaging science and technology. The synergy of packaging science in combination with graphics will provide an ultimate package to optimize, protect, display and market your current produce offerings.

Even more exciting is the possibility to access different segments of the marketplace; new types of packaging and possibly even produce items and varieties not currently packaged. In addition you can use the graphics, artwork and design of the package to communicate the benefits of the incorporated science and technology.

Bottom line the synergies of combining graphics and artwork with packaging science and technology will far exceed the marking and branding potential of each effort separately.

Jeffrey Brandenburg of The JSB Group, jbrandenburg@jsbgroup.com and Deirdre Holcroft of Holcroft Postharvest Consulting, Manuel Madrid of Fruit Profits, and David Barney of Geofresh, are the founding members of the Global Fresh Technology Group. They, along with our partner Halden packaging in South Africa work with leading edge packaging and postharvest science and technology companies to bring state of the art packaging, postharvest, and food safety expertise to the global fresh produce market.

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ARTICLE: The Science of Modified Atmosphere Packaging for Fresh Produce

by Jeffrey Brandenburg

Introduction of MAP for Produce

By definition Modified Atmosphere Packaging is when the package internal atmosphere is something other than ambient atmosphere. This type of packaging falls into two broad categories: Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) and Controlled Atmosphere Packaging (CAP). For barrier packaging of products such as meat, cheese, snack food etc., MAP refers to enclosing a product within a barrier package and modifying the atmosphere, either by or a combination of drawing a vacuum or filling it with a gas(es). CAP is a process where gases are added or removed to maintain a desired balance. MAP barrier packaging allows meat to bloom, extends shelf life, prevents soft products from being crushed, and retains moisture.

MAP for fresh produce is more complex because the produce continues to respire, consuming O2 and giving off CO2; therefore when designing modified atmosphere packaging for fresh produce the convergence of three unique and separate sciences must take place, namely produce physiology, polymer engineering and converting technology.

In fresh produce package design the internal atmosphere of a MAP package is achieved by the relationship between the respiration rate of the live produce and the transmission rate of the breathable package. Therefore in order to properly design and optimize MAP one first must quantify the produce respiration rate values. Using published respiration rates is not as effective as measuring the respiration rate of your product.

Jeffrey Brandenburg (The JSB Group) and Deirdre Holcroft (HPC) have developed a relatively simple respiration rate (RR) quantification procedure that includes:

  • Ability to perform tests at either customer or our own facilities,
  • Testing RR on multiple produce raw materials simultaneously,
  • Testing RR of complex produce blends,
  • Testing RR on ready to eat meals,
  • Improved test materials,
  • Updated data collection spreadsheets directly linked to JSB HPC proprietary package design and shelf life determination system.

When the package is designed properly this relationship will allow the internal atmosphere to modify passively until an optimal final modified atmosphere is achieved. Active gas flushing in produce packaging is an augmentation technology which is only used in certain situations e.g. to prevent enzymatic browning (pinking) reactions in Iceberg or Romaine lettuce.

Modified atmosphere packaging when combined with proper post-harvest handling procedures and temperature control management can have a positive impact on the quality and shelf life of fresh produce. MAP does have some limitations:

  • MAP is only effective if there is consistent temperature management throughout the entire life cycle of the produce product from processing throughout entire distribution channel. Lack of temperature control will result in produce physiological variations, particularly respiration, which will impact the effectiveness of the packaging system. For example if MAP is designed for 10C but held at 5C then it will take longer to achieve an effective atmosphere because the respiration rate is lower. If it is stored at 20C then respiration rate increases and the product can go anaerobic which affects quality, causes off-flavours and decreases shelf life.
  • Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) will never improve the quality of the incoming raw material product. Under ideal circumstances the best that can be achieved is to maintain the existing quality level throughout the desired shelf life. In real world applications often MAP will maintain quality for the majority of the targeted shelf life, but due to parameter variations during distribution, quality will suffer at the very end of the desired shelf life. Since modified atmosphere packaging will never improve incoming product quality the need for optimal post-harvest handling procedures is paramount.
  • If the package leaks then then the target modified atmosphere cannot be achieved and or maintained. In effect a package with a leaker will no longer be in control, therefore modified atmosphere packaging must be designed to minimize and ultimately eliminate leakers. This can be accomplished through proper polymer, and film selection as well as packaging equipment parameters.

Effects of MAP on Product Physiology and Safety

Most of the reactions with food constituents involving oxygen are degradative reactions involving the oxidative breakdown of foods into their constitutive parts. Because of this, many packaging strategies seek to exclude oxygen and thus slow these degradation processes. Many spoilage microorganisms require oxygen and will grow and cause off odors in the presence of sufficient oxygen. Oxygen is necessary to the normal respiratory metabolism of fresh fruits and vegetables and normal atmospheric concentrations of oxygen encourage and facilitate senescence and degradation of quality.

Reducing O2 concentrations below about 10% around many fresh fruits and vegetables slows their respiration rate and indirectly slows the rates at which they ripen, age and decay. Reducing the O2 concentration can, in some cases, reduce oxidative browning reactions which can be of particular concern in precut leafy vegetables. Reduced O2 can delay compositional changes such as fruit softening, pigment development, toughening of some vegetables (such as asparagus and broccoli), and development of flavor (Kader, 1986). However, O2 is required for normal metabolism to proceed. O2 concentrations below about 1-2% can lead to anaerobic (sometimes called fermentative) metabolism and associated production of ethanol and acetaldehyde resulting in off flavors, off odors and loss of quality. Of even greater concern is the potential growth of anaerobic bacteria, some of which are pathogenic to humans, under these low oxygen conditions. The proper O2 concentration will depend upon the fruit or vegetable and its tolerance to low O2, the temperature (which will affect the product’s tolerance to low O2), and the time that the product will be exposed to low O2.

Carbon dioxide is present in the atmosphere in low levels, typically about 0.03%, but is an important product of combustion and so is easily produced. It is very soluble in water, especially in cold water, (179.7 cm3/100 ml @ 0°C), and will thus be absorbed by high moisture foods. When CO2 dissolves in water it produces carbonic acid which will cause a drop in pH and an acidifying effect. This acidification, as well as direct antimicrobial effects, can suppress the growth of many spoilage microorganisms and for this reason is essential in many extended shelf life packages.

Elevated CO2 can, like reduced O2, slow respiration thereby extending shelf life. Although the effects of elevated CO2 on respiration are not as dramatic as those of low O2, high CO2 and low O2 together can, in some cases, reduce respiration more than either gas alone (Kader et al., 1988). CO2 at relatively high concentration (> 10%) has been shown to suppress the growth of a number of decay-causing fungi and bacteria.   However too much CO2 can be damaging to plant tissues and individual fruits and vegetables differ in their tolerance to CO2.

Oxygen (O2) and CO2 permeate through plastic polymers at various rates depending on the polymer, but it generally O2 permeates through more slowly than carbon dioxide. The permeability rate of oxygen (and all gases) in plastics increases as temperature increases. Similarly, the chemical reactivity of oxygen with food constituents increases as temperature increases.

When creating MAP from microperforated films the transmission rate of the gases through the holes are directly related to the geometry, size and consistency of the perforated holes. Unlike gas transmission through polymer films which creates different rates for O2 and CO2, gas transmission through perforations are equal. In other words, O2 and CO2 have the same transmission rate through a perforation. This means that if you target a low O2 level (e.g. 2% O2) you will have a resulting high CO2 level (e.g. 19%), whereas with a non-perforated polymer film when you target a low O2 level the resulting CO2 level can be at low to moderate levels.

In addition there is a transmission rate ceiling with non perforated films and a lower level transmission rate limit with perforated films. It is therefore important to understand the different properties of the two types of packaging transmission technologies so that the optimal technology can be used.

Finally it is imperative that MAP always work in conjunction with an excellent program of sanitation and quality assurance in order to optimize quality and safety.

Through the relationship between the Global Fresh Technology Group and companies such as Packaging World we can provide services and technical support to optimize packaging, produce quality and shelf life.

Specific services and support includes:

  • Optimization of product quality and shelf life; for example 10 days of shelf life on packaged salad is obtainable with the correct film and good postharvest handling
  • Quantify product respiration rates through property RR test method to design optimal packaging films
  • Modified atmosphere package design based upon quantified produce physiological properties
  • Postharvest physiology resource
  • Food safety resource
  • Sustainable packaging resource
  • Independent MAP resource and expertise
  • Global technology resource for both rigid and flexible packaging
  • Customized training programmes for your staff.

 

Jeffrey Brandenburg of The JSB Group, jbrandenburg@jsbgroup.com and Deirdre Holcroft of Holcroft Postharvest Consulting, Manuel Madrid of Fruit Profits, and David Barney of Geofresh, are the founding members of the Global Fresh Technology Group. They have joined forces to provide technical and educational services to the global fresh produce, ornamental and food industries.

 

 

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Freshplaza.com article: Jeff Brandenburg discusses why packaging must take active role in product development

At the latest edition of Fruit Logistica, Future Lab, Jeffrey Brandenburg, president of JSB, gave a conference entitled “Ground-breaking solutions in Convenience Packaging”, in which he addressed the various innovations, ideas and developments in the world of packaging for fresh produce.

JSB at Future LabFirst and foremost, Jeffrey stated that “packaging should be understood as a technology platform, as in addition to meeting its intended use, it can extend the product’s shelf life, or provide quality optimisation. Packaging can also help in ensuring sustainability and food safety, which has become the number one challenge for the fresh produce industry, from both a technological and economic standpoint.”
In terms of market differentiation and brand recognition, packaging is acquiring an increasingly important role. “It provides a pristine opportunity to drive the message home about who you are and what your brand’s statement is,” says Jeffrey.

Furthermore, “when looking at innovative packaging technologies, their goal is not just to extend shelf life, but mostly to optimise quality.”

In this sense, Jeffrey assures that a key parameter to take into account when designing modified atmosphere packaging is temperature, which serves to reinforce the idea that “good post-harvest cold chain management is also a huge factor in the optimisation of produce packaging.”

To achieve this optimisation, one must take into account each product’s defining characteristics. “Carrots transpire at a different rate than cucumbers, which in turn transpire at a different rate than aubergines or lamb’s lettuce, so you can’t expect these different living organisms to go into the same package,” explains Jeffrey.
Contributing towards improving the future of packaging, we have companies like Mocon, which manufactures sensing equipment to test headspace in packages and transmission rates in films, and which, according to Jeffrey “is now in the process of introducing a technology able to measure permeation through micro-perforations, which is a tremendous step forward.”

Another key parameter in the development of produce packaging is moisture management, especially when temperature variations occur. “One of the big challenges we have is that most packaging materials are very good moisture barriers; to this end, films are being developed that allow for higher vapour and moisture transmission rates,” states Jeffrey.

In addition to these, there are also new developments intended to improve aspects such as food safety or odour management, which reinforce the idea introduced earlier of packaging as a technology platform. “You have a sustainability component, the ability for high graphics or the capacity to modify the breathability of the punnet itself,” affirms Jeffrey.

Another big trend in the berry, whole fruit and whole veg market is the use of re-sealable packaging. There is also a lot of work being done on packaging with antimicrobial and absorbent properties. Jeffrey explains that “being able to work at nano level has significantly contributed to increase the efficacy of these products.”
To conclude, Jeffrey stresses the relevance of sustainability, illustrated by the development of a new film made from a material that will be fully compostable and biodegradable. “A lot of sustainable packaging is not compatible with the modified atmosphere or moisture transmission aspects we have previously addressed, but this one coming down the road will make it possible. These are thus exciting times for the packaging industry.”

JSB at Future Lab presentationAll in all, “If you can’t look at your packaging supplier as a resource for innovation and looking to the future, they are doing you a disservice. Packaging must be a fundamental part of new product development and suppliers must be allowed to take an active part in this process; that is the way to take advantage of new advances and technologies,” concludes the president of JSB.

For more information:
Jeffrey S Brandenburg
The JSB Group, LLC
Tel: +1-413-772-6558
Mob: +1-413-204-1788
www.jsbgroup.com

Publication date: 2/9/2015
Author: Heather Goulooze
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com

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Worldwide Technology Resource for the Flexible, Produce, and Food Packaging Industries