Where does our food come from?
When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, the answer may be from farther away than you think. Here at Innotech, we work with many blueberry growers and processors both locally and internationally. Markets emerging in China have increased the demand for these delicious little blue fruits, and growers are expanding to meet the growth of this new marketplace. New operations are springing up in South and Central America, particularly in the countries of Chile, Peru, and Mexico.
But how does one transport these fragile berries across the largest ocean on Earth?
As it turns out, the majority of food (and all goods) around the world are transported via water. I’m sure that’s fine for say, grain, which can be kept from spoiling easily for months with little more than protection from the elements. But how do you properly transport a fruit with a short shelf life efficiently while maintaining its freshness?
Respiring fruit transportation is a tricky business, and the perfect levels of Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Carbon Dioxide need to be maintained at all times. Companies such as Hapag-Lloyd have developed specialized cargo containers to maintain the perfect levels at all times during transit.
Other companies are developing new technologies to tackle the challenges of respiring fruits. RipeLocker is a startup based on Bainbridge Island, not too far south from us here in Bellingham. They have developed containers that also maintain gas levels similar to the containers mentioned previously, but they are small enough to fit on a pallet.
But as any fruit grower will tell you, fruit quality will not improve during transport. This means picking, cleaning, and grading are of utmost importance to ensure that only the highest-quality fruit is packaged and shipped. While marginal produce might be fine for a local farmer’s market, berries on the edge of spoiling will not be worthy of selling after 40 days in transit.