Sustainable Flexfresh film extends the shelf life of perishables

Uflexo shows Flexfresh at Anuga Foodtec 2018 in Cologne


In alignment with the United Nations call to end hunger for all by 2030, Uflex’s Flexfresh film is being used around the world for the Active Modified Atmospheric Packaging (AMAP) of perishable produce. The special patented film, Flexfresh is a proprietary polymeric composition that extends the shelf life of highly perishable fresh produce like fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Uflex is the largest Indian packaging materials company based in Noida. Apart from its film and packaging material production material plants in India, the company has packaging film plants in the UAE, Poland, USA and Mexico. The company’s Flexfresh packaging solution will be shown at its stand F-035 in Hall 8 at Anuga Foodtec in Cologne, Germany from 20-23 March 2018.

Flexfresh works in conjunction with the fast respiration meter and laser perforation system supplied by Perfotec BV in The Netherlands. The respiration meter ascertains the respiration rate of the fresh produce and the laser system uses this information to adapt the permeability of the film with the help of a perforation matrix.

Using Flexfresh film, the equilibrium of oxygen and carbon dioxide is maintained at all times while restricting humidity between 90-95% to avoid condensation. The effect of ethylene emitted by the produce is greatly reduced during ripening amidst high humidity. The bag exhibits good carbon dioxide release characteristics. Neither gas flushing nor compressed vacuum techniques are used while the amount of oxygen required by the product in the packaging is controlled by the micro-perforation which is based on the measured oxygen and carbon dioxide required inside the bag. Uflex claims that Flexfresh is the first ever film for packing fresh produce that is bio-degradable by composting and complies with international regulations for overall migration (EC 1935/2004), reach compliance (EC 1907/2006) and which qualifies for biodegradation under DIN EN 13432 (2000-12).

Explaining the benefits of this packaging solution for fresh produce N Siva Shankaran, Uflex vice president for Flexfresh says, “Flexfresh as a packaging solution is being increasingly used by exporters from across the world for exporting their fresh produce by economic sea freight instead of exorbitant air dispatch.”

Citing success stories, Siva Shankaran said, “A leading Dutch bell pepper exporter commenced shipping his produce to USA by sea containers in 2015. The exporter was happy with the arrival quality and exported over 300 containers from Holland to USA in 2017 after conducting successful trials by sea container earlier in 2015.

“An Indian pomegranate grower has been supplying its produce to Europe. Extensive trials were conducted during 2015 and in 2017 over 300 containers of pomegranates were exported to Europe and other regions to leading super markets with excellent quality on arrival. In fact, the Flexfresh liner bag was recently accredited by National Research Centre on Pomegranate (ICAR-NRCP) located in Solapur Maharashtra associated with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.”

Siva Sankaran notes that a leading European retail chain recently conducted a litmus trial with Flexfresh bags by shipping Blueberries from South America to Europe, a journey that usually takes more than 5 weeks by sea. “The results were astounding! While the loose blueberries resulted in an average weight loss of 19.96%, those packed in Flexfresh shed merely 0.76% weight after 7 weeks — a phenomenal 96% reduction in weight loss upon arrival,” he says.

Another recent Flexfresh success is that of a major banana exporter in extending the shelf life of the fruit in its green-phase. The reduction in weight loss and ability to carry out ethylene treatment without opening the bag, results in a significant saving of labour while ensuring better product delivery for the consumer. The solution provides great reduction in supply chain costs, as bananas are available for longer periods alleviating sudden market demand spikes while considerably reducing wastage as the holding period is extended by 2-3 weeks before ethylene treatment.

Talking about Flexfresh, Uflex chairman and managing director Ashok Chaturvedi says, “Research has proven beyond reasonable doubt that flexible packaging with features like re-closability and optimum barrier properties aids in protecting food from being wasted. Flexfresh has stood the test of time extending shelf-life of highly perishable fresh produce and preventing associated wastage. By its very design Flexfresh is the first ever film for packing fresh produce that is bio-degradable by composting. Studies have also proven that the energy required for manufacturing flexible packaging is just about 10% of the total energy required in producing the food and getting it from the farm to table. Thus there is merit in embracing flexible packaging for protecting food from being wasted. Through a platform as prestigious as Anuga Foodtec, I would like to invite all concerned with preventing food wastage and hunger to our stand at the exhibition in Cologne as Flexfresh steps us the freshness and sustainability quotient of the event.”

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