• A fresh arrival: Hass avocadoes packed in Flexfresh (left image) versus control delivery (right).
    A fresh arrival: Hass avocadoes packed in Flexfresh (left image) versus control delivery (right).

Transporting fresh produce in a COVID climate is challenging more than ever. Metalprint has a shelf-life solution for growers making the switch to sea freight export.

The nation’s fresh produce sector has faced a number of challenges in the past year in the environment of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the delivery of products to overseas markets has shifted to previous years – access to airfreight capacity has greatly diminished and costs have skyrocketed, while lead times to deliver produce to markets in good condition has become more difficult to manage, according to Metalprint managing director Bernard Waterson.

Metalprint has serviced Australian businesses for more than 35 years with a wide range of packaging solutions. It has a focus on providing the latest, innovative technology from around the world to the domestic market, and once COVID-19 hit, the company has continued to find solutions for its customers in the fresh produce sector.

One of its products helping tackle the ongoing challenges of export is Flexfresh. Produced by Uflex, one of the largest vertically-integrated packaging manufacturers in India, Flexfresh naturally supports the extension of the produce being transported, and allows producers to deliver fresh produce in its premium, fresh state.

“It uses the natural processes of the fruit itself and without the use of any additives or chemicals, making it ideal for all types of fruit and vegetables, and in particular organic and premium fruit,” Waterson told Food & Drink Business.

“Flexfresh limits the aging process of the fruit, while also preventing the development of moulds, which contribute to spoilage. It allows the choice of sea freight over airfreight for products that have a limited shelf life of weeks. Each product has its own specific performance, but shelf-life extension averages around seven weeks or more.”

Flexfresh is bio-based, and has been certified compostable in Europe. It is responsibly sourced, without petroleum-based plastic, meaning it also has a responsible end of life.

Waterson says that Uflex perform and manage all aspects of its Flexfresh process in-house, from designing the composition of the films, through to materials production and manufacturing of finished packaging, allowing Uflex to design and specify speciality materials for Flexfresh, composed from the ground up.

“It ensures that the maximum performance is achieved through a unique combination of physical design elements and material characteristics to achieve shelf-life extension, weight loss reduction and flavour retention,” says Waterson.

“Flexfresh is also suitable for fruits that are affected by condensation and fogging, as it’s unique formulation eliminates condensation. It’s optimised for each specific fruit and vegetable, ensuring the most fit for purpose liner possible.

“Flexfresh can even be specified for cut flowers such as roses, where it’s used to empower e-commerce florists to deliver product of the highest quality.”

The solution further eliminates the need for growers to include secondary additives to their produce, as Flexfresh also prevents any product deterioration.

Waterson says Flexfresh has been proven as a promising solution in export across a wide range of produce, such as beans, capsicums, mangoes, cherries, grapes and stone fruit. Its specialist design allows it to be targeted at almost any fruit or vegetable, meaning Australian growers and producers can be assured its produce – regardless of export or domestic transport – is reaching its destination in optimal condition.

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