For years, processors used refrigerated storage, reducing the oxygen content of the environment, in an effort to prevent ripening.
Increasingly processors are switching to alternative preservation systems using chemical technology, which offer opportunities to source produce further away and keep stock for longer.
AgroFresh announced, this week, sales revenue of its SmartFresh preservation system has increased 62 per cent during 2006 against the 2005 -- the year the product was launched.
The manufacturer also published results of tests conducted on apples in partnership with local researchers in the US over the past six years, and more recently with growers from areas including, including France, Italy, South Africa and the US, show the system has a positive effect on apples.
SmartFresh has a particularly positive effect on sensitive apple varieties, claims AgroFresh.
Recent tests in France on 2005 season Golden Delicious apples show that after storage and 15 days shelf life, SmartFresh stored apples were about 15 per cent firmer than cold stored apples.
Galas after storage and 20 days shelf life, were about 41 per cent firmer for SmartFresh apples against those refrigerated in tests conducted in France also.
Tests in Belgium show that Jonagold, a variety that quick softens, were 16 per cent firmer for apples stored using SmartFresh with seven days shelf life, compared to cold stored apples.
The manufacturer claims the apples can be sold in four to six weeks, without needing to again put them into a controlled, cold atmosphere.
SmartFresh uses 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), a chemical effective against ethylene, a ripening agent that causes fruit to soften.
A small amount of SmartFresh, in powder form introduced into water, will dissipate into the air completely within 24 hours, leaving no residue. An amount the size of a small sugar package is enough to treat up to three million apples with the edible coating, claims AgroFresh.
However, SmartFresh will not change or alter the nature of the fruit. Spoiled produce will not return to good product.
SmartFresh ideally should be used about five days after the harvest and storage of the apples for example, AgroFresh claims.
Peter Vriends, European general manager for AgroFresh, said the innovation represents an important innovation for the fresh produce industry because it slows down the ripening process during storage and transport.
"Producers, shippers and traders profit from this through greater flexibility during the harvest, storage and sale of fruit," he said. "In turn, retailers are able to deliver consistently high quality fruit to consumers who appreciate fresh, juicy, good looking and nutritious apples."
SmartFresh is currently registered for use within the European Union, New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada, and many others.