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Stepachas unveiled a new range of sustainable packaging solutions for pomegranates.

The range – which includes recyclable solutions and packaging formats tailored to automation of both bulk and retail packing – has been designed to preserve the fruit’s freshness and extend shelf life.

Despite the fruit's tough exterior, Stepac said whole fresh pomegranates present a range of challenges when it comes to prolonged storage.

“In the absence of proper protection, the fruit can suffer significant dehydration and weight loss, causing it to shrivel,” the Israel-based company said in a release. “This may be accompanied by the development of skin blemishes and crown decay that eventually leaches into the fruit and impairs the quality and taste of the arils.”

The specialisedStepacXtendbin lineris one new addition to the company’s pomegranate packing portfolio. The liner allows growers and packers to store up to 400kgof fresh-picked pomegranates for periods of three months with no negative impact on the fruit, according to Stepac.

Another innovation comes in the form of Stepac’s fully recyclableXgoliddingfilms and standing pouches for retail-packaging products.These solutionsare designed toinhibit postharvest microbial decayand extend the shelf life of extracted pomegranate arils for up to 17 days, preserving the fruit’s organoleptic properties. The lidding films are available in lean easy peel and resealable formats.

The company’s range of lean and sustainable packaging solutions has been designed to maintain pomegranate freshness throughout all stages of the supply chain.

“The technology is based on a unique modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) system that reduces respiration rates and ethylene production for a combined effect of slowing down ageing and ripening,” the release added. “It also inhibits the proliferation of pathogens”

StePac has also developed a range of films with built-in abilities to regulate water-vapor transmission rates, as well as provide optimal modified atmosphere conditions. The films incorporate distinct properties to cater to a range of pomegranate packaging applications.

“During prolonged storage of this fruit, it is paramount to strike the perfect balance between eliminating excess free moisture to mitigate the risk of microbial decay and to concurrently avoid excessive product dehydration,” said Gary Ward, business development manager of StePac. “Such balance depends on multiple synergistic factors, including surface area to volume ratio, produce weight, supply chain length, and shipping and storage conditions.”

Ward said the focus on developing improved packing solutions for pomegranates coincides with the fruit’s growing popularity.

'The global reach of our technology is instrumental in addressing the challenges facing the pomegranate industry and for ensuring that both the whole fruit and the extracted arils reach the consumers— wherever they might be — in prime condition, while keeping waste to a minimum,” Ward explained.

“Our holistic vision and pragmatic approach are embedded in a range of complex structures and packaging formats that deliver the extended shelf life and sustainability principles our customers seek.”

Stepac will showcase its new range of pomegranate packaging solutions at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, 5-7 February.