Landec’s BreatheWay® packaging technology extends the shelf life of packaged fruits and vegetables to ensure high quality fresh produce reaches the consumer and can be enjoyed in the home. The challenge of maximizing the shelf life of fresh produce through a multi-step logistics system is complex, as produce items must make their way from the farm, through the processing plant and distribution warehouses and finally to the retailer. Complexities are compounded by the fact that each type of fruit or vegetable prefers a unique storage atmosphere to maintain its optimal freshness, which can be affected by fluctuations in temperature.
All produce breathes – just like humans. Produce continues to respire after it is harvested. The respiration rate of produce varies for each produce item. The ideal conditions under which each item must be stored for maximum shelf life also varies. For example, the air we breathe contains 21% O2 and 0.04% CO2, however, to maintain the optimal freshness for broccoli the target atmosphere inside the package needs to be about 3% O2 and 8% CO2; our Breatheway technology naturally regulates the flow of CO2 out of the package so that the ideal levels for the produce can be obtained.
The BreatheWay membrane technology was developed to passively and automatically maintain the ideal O2 and CO2 levels within a package and compensate for fluctuations in temperature along the supply chain. Each membrane is applied over a small cutout section or hole in a flexible film bag or plastic tray.
BreatheWay membranes use Landec’s Intelimer polymer technology to manage the ratio of CO2/O2 that diffuses across the membrane to self-regulate to the optimal atmosphere for that specific fruit or vegetable. Leveraging the temperature triggered properties of the Intelimer polymer, the membrane is also able to adjust gas permeability to compensate for moderate temperature changes that often occur in the supply chain.
Landec’s subsidiary, Apio Inc., is the market leader in supplying packaged fresh-cut vegetable in North America and uses the BreatheWay technology for many of its specialty packaged vegetables and tray products. Apio also sells Clearly Fresh Bags directly to consumers, where BreatheWay technology can help fruit and vegetables last up to 50% longer in the home. Apio also licenses the BreatheWay technology to Chiquita® for use with bananas, to Windset Farms® for use with their greenhouse grown peppers and cucumbers, to Transfresh for use on pallet-sized bags of blueberries and to Juicero for use on their pre-juice pouches and Apio is engaging in additional global partners to qualify the use of the BreatheWay membrane technology on a wide array of fresh produce products.