N9806 Fresh-Life Extension of Produce

The objective of this study was to assess the potential value of a product that extends shelf life of fruits and vegetables. At present, the Company sells products for crop protection; it would like to sell a larger number of products in a larger number of markets with the objective of adding value to fruits and vegetables. Since the current customers of the Company are growers, and since growers are increasingly involved through co-operatives and other organisations in bringing produce to market, the Company would like to understand the potential value of a product that extends the shelf-life of certain specific products.

The study also provides an opinion on the feasibility of developing such a product, assuming registration can be obtained. The over-arching question is, “If it is possible to develop a product, is it worth doing so?”

The study addresses the value of extending shelf life for one or two weeks on bananas, tomatoes, melons, leafy greens and apples. Who in the value chain benefits most; who in this chain has the most to lose or gain from shelf-life extension? What is the current competitive situation? Does gene manipulation have a role in this area?

Part of this report is based on the personal knowledge and experiences of personnel involved in the food industry for 25-40 years. This involvement included direct participation for ~15 years in developing new methods for extending the shelf life of fresh produce. Additional data has been gathered from published literature and private communications from selected companies including contacts to obtain opinions on the potential value of this product at various points along the chain from grower to consumer.

The study contents included:

Methods of prolonging the fresh life of fresh fruit & vegetables

Temperature control

Atmosphere control

Hormonal control

Genetic modification

Effects of ethylene on selected produce

The market for fresh produce

Loss and quality deterioration in the supply chain

The banana market

Bananas – Implications for the supply of a life-extending product

A complex apple market

Leafy Vegetables

Tomatoes

Melons

Economic considerations on extending fresh life

Contacts

EU Genetic Engineering Projects on Ethylene

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