The perfect place for strawberries? A smart crate

The calcareous shell of snails is essentially a shelter with which these small animals defend themselves from external danger. What is more: in unfavourable weather conditions, the shell produces a thin membrane that keeps moisture inside, allowing snails to maintain their “slimy” consistency. Extraordinary, isn’t it?

Now try and apply the same idea to food packing techniques. Nowadays, the food packaging industry presents a number of issues connected with the natural perishability of products. The desire to create increasingly functional packaging and increase the shelf-life of food calls for the use of more and more functional materials. At the same time, the environment needs to be protected, so that packaging systems should minimize the volume of waste and should be made of biodegradable or recyclable materials.

The modern foodtech industry seems to have found a solution that can meet these different needs: have you ever heard of active packaging? It consists of a series of packaging systems which consistently and systematically interact with the internal atmosphere of a package, varying the qualitative and quantitative composition of food by releasing antimicrobial agents, antioxidants and other useful substances that can improve its quality.

An example? The Italian consortium Bestack, which has been bringing together Italian fruit and vegetable packaging producers for years, has developed, together with the University of Bologna, a special crate for strawberries which, thanks to an innovative patent developed over 5 years of university research, fights food waste with a mixture of natural essential oils that are nebulized in the cardboard crate, contrasting the effect of ethylene that is responsible for fruit deterioration.  The shelf life of strawberries increases from one to two days. Not impressed by these data? Just think that waste is thereby reduced by up to 8%: almost 850,000 tons of products saved every year!