Breakthrough in packaging addresses shelf-life challenges for whole and sliced mushrooms

StePacPPC has unveiled a new, improved modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) film designed to maintain the freshness of whole and sliced white mushrooms, and whole exotic mushrooms such as oyster, lion’s mane, shiitake, portabella and more.

The solution was developed in response to demand for sustainable packaging that slows deterioration and reduces waste of this highly perishable item.

The customised film slows down decay and reduces weight loss, preserving mushroom texture, nutrition, and flavour thereby diminishing waste and costs.

StePacPPC CTO Gary Ward said the highly perishable nature of mushrooms, combined with the challenges of maintaining their shelf-life has kept mushrooms from realising their full market potential.

“Mushrooms have high metabolic activity and respiration rates which gives them a short shelf life, typically just a few days,” explained Ward.

“They also generate a lot of moisture during the respiration process, which encourages bacterial decay. On the other hand, they are also prone to dehydration which causes them to shrivel, and they become discolored due to oxidation. Sliced mushrooms are even more susceptible to a rapid decline in quality.”

The high water-vapour transmission rate of StePacPPC films, coupled with the customised modified atmosphere properties, have proven ideal for preserving the quality of both whole and sliced mushrooms, according to Ward. Combined they slow respiration and aging, reduce dehydration, and expel excess moisture from the packaging.

“In post-harvest lab and field trials, our films have demonstrated abilities to maintain the freshness and wholesome appearance of mushrooms,” said Ward.

“This effectively stretches their shelf-life from just a few days to more than two weeks, generating meaningful reductions in food waste.”

StePacPPC’s packaging first demonstrated its potential for mushroom preservation during the Covid pandemic when its Xtend bulk packaging solutions were used to prolong the storage of oyster mushrooms in the cold storage. Since then, the company has developed Xtend bulk packaging solutions for lion’s mane, shiitake and portabella.

Roni Sofer, vp of marketing for Israel-based Marina Galilee Mushrooms said the Xtend solution helped preserve the quality of the company’s oyster and portobella mushrooms.

“The results have been amazing, and overall, we have succeeded in preserving the freshness for more than ten days and waste in our supply chain has reduced by more than 35 per cent since we began,” said Sofer.

StePacPPC and its US-based partner Windham Packaging, adapted the Xflow brand of roll-stock films for automated packing to meet the specific preservation needs of bulk fresh sliced white mushrooms. An upgrade well received by customers.

“The results have been impressive, and overall, the packaging system preserved the freshness for as long as 18 days,” said Fred Recchiuti of Basciani Foods, a leading provider of fresh high-quality mushrooms for retail and the food service industry in the US.

“The tamper-proof bag increases food safety, security, and eliminates the possibility of foreign materials entering the product in the supply chain. For sustainability, it reduces the product’s plastic use by more than 94.7 per cent versus the tubs we used to use.”

Ward said these packaging formats can also optionally be produced with 30 per cent recycled material to support a circular economy.