July 22, 2019

StePac’s modified atmosphere packaging eliminates need for ice in vegetable shipping

A packaging product from StePac L.A. with modified atmosphere/modified humidity packaging (MA/MH) technology aims to change long-haul packing for fresh broccoli and other vegetables traditionally shipped in ice.

The company is marketing the product, Xtend Iceless MA/MH bulk packaging, as taking produce shipping “out of the Ice Age” by eliminating the need for ice and non-recyclable wax cartons while enhancing food safety, according to a press release from StePac.

In the U.S., broccoli and other produce items are typically packed in waxed cartons filled with ice to keep the produce cool and maintain freshness during storage and shipment. However, when the ice melts onto the produce it not only creates a mess but encourages the growth of both plant and human pathogens, according to StePac’s press release. Waxed cartons also are non-recyclable, according to StePac.

Field-packing represents an obstacle for the implementation of MA/MH technology, the company said. Much of the broccoli in the U.S. is field-packed in cartons, put on pallets, and then ice is added upon arrival at the packing house.

“We developed a solution that enables the broccoli to be field-packed in Xtend packaging and then forced air and/or vacuum-cooled in the sealed packaging,” said Gary Ward, Ph.D., Business Development Manager for StePac. The system is patented in the U.S. and Mexico, he said in the press release.

Above: StePac: Taking broccoli packaging out of the Ice Age Photo: StePac/PRNewswire