Controlled atmosphere fruit storage is a technique used in order to control the composition of the atmosphere surrounding the stored perishable goods , slowing the goods’ respiration rate and consequential spoiling.
The possibility of removing oxygen from an environment to prevent the respiratory metabolic processes of stored crops in the fruit and vegetable industry has allowed storage periods to be extended to even longer periods of time. It is usually applied to products ( in the horticultural sector for apples, kiwifruit, pears, plums, peaches, soft fruits, cherries) stored in purpose-built warehouses that have been fully fitted with management and control devices for checking the atmospheric composition (the ratio between oxygen and carbon dioxide), skillfully combined with suitable temperatures.
Controlled atmosphere, combined with lowered temperatures, has a more incisive effect on the products’ metabolism, for example by reducing the fruits’ ethylene production , by blocking chlorophyll (green colour) deterioration , by delaying pectin hydrolysis (pulp firmness), slowing the demolition of vitamin and acids. Such reductions are realized through the use of specific apparatus which remove the oxygen usually present in the atmosphere at a percentage of around 20% , mixed with greater percentages of CO2 (produced by the fruit itself).
The main phases of the process, in which controlled atmosphere of the fruit acts, are loading the fruit into the storerooms, cooling and O2 abatement, the next storage phase continues following
specific protocols for the single varieties, then the room atmosphere must be restored to breathable concentrations before opening and successive unloading of the fruit. One of the advantages of controlled atmosphere storage consists in the almost total absence of chemical agents used in the process. From the commodity-related point of view this means not only the organoleptical qualities of the fruit are maintained , but there is also a reduction in losses due to pathogenic agents (fungus) and known physiopathologies such as scald, senescence, and general chill damage.
Research evolution has allowed the application of this technique, the scientific definition of which dates back to the early nineteen hundreds, even in vast environments. Hence the construction of large dimension controlled atmosphere warehouses has been possible, allowing the horticultural companies to store their goods in huge quantities that will then be sold during the course of the year.
With the advent of DCA – Swinglos® significant advantages are being reaped in the long term storage of apples and pears with great approval,due to their flavor, from an increasingly demanding Consumer constantly attentive to quality.