THE HOLISTIC APPROACH TO SHELF LIFE AND THE COOL CHAIN
Benefit from 36 years of experience on pre cooling and cool chain design and techniques
There are many factors which determine the shelf life of fresh produce; all of them inter connected in one way or another. Produce handling, cooling, packaging and further temperature control are vital areas but so are harvest, hygiene and best working practice.
We are all aware of “The Cool Chain” but just because our produce arrives at the distribution centre within the set temperature band doesn’t mean we have it right. It doesn’t mean that we are providing the best quality with the longest shelf life. It just means that according to the circumstance and methodology you are using this is the result.
Fresh Produce is most vulnerable from the time of harvest to the point of sale, it’s a time of high risk as all investment has been made in the production and packing and yet it is an area that very rarely benefits from a sees a holistic approach.
In many cases 50-70% of the total shelf life value can be lost before the product is produced.
A practised eye and in depth practical knowledge will ensure that if investment has to be made it happens effectively and in the right areas.
In far too many cases investment is made in treating the symptom rather than the cause.
WHAT NEXT – PHASE ONE
The first step to increasing your shelf life starts with a site visit and information gathering. Depending on the size and complexity of the operation one or two days are required for this. During this time we will need to see every aspect of the operation from harvest to final pack and despatch
Harvesting of all crops
Transport arrangement to pack house
Pre cooling operation
With the data gathered from the site visit a report is produced and a plan evolved showing areas that can be looked at to preserve quality and reduce waste. It is important to understand that this is a complete holistic approach and may not necessarily involve high capital expenditure. It is important to view the whole process from start to finish as every step and action will have an outcome that will affect the final result.
PHASE TWO - IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation of the steps recommended in the report is clearly a vital factor and we will assist throughout this phase. This may involve some design work or assistance with contractors, simple manufacturing or putting together training manual. Whatever the solution is you will have our support going forward.
PHASE THREE – THE FOLLOW UP
One thing that we have learnt in the last 36 years is that it is important to follow up on applied Post Harvest solutions to make sure that the best practice is still carried out and as we all know things can change with either new varieties, growing areas, customer specifications etc. which may lead to small tweaks in the Post-harvest methodology to ensure optimum results going forward. A follow up visit say six months after the initial work can be extremely beneficial.