Getting a chain reaction-tips for better fruit quality

Every part of the supply chain, from growers through to retailers, has an important part to play in ensuring fruit reaches consumers in the best possible condition.

The carton project made the following best practice recommendations for each stage of the supply chain:
Tips for growers


The study found positives of the 15kg one-piece were:

• Carton Sidewall Strength: reduces the risk of compression bruising and neck damage. This was achieved through using an internal center post, which helps to prevent ‘telescoping’ (the carton above falling into the carton below) • Fruit Tightness In Carton: The extra 2kg of fruit in a carton helps reduce “trampolining” and fruit movement leading to transit rub. A tightly packed bottom row was particularly important, acting as a “spine” and provided additional rigidity • Internal Carton Height: Kept to a maximum of 175mm, it reduces fruit bounce, transit rub, neck damage and compression bruising • Packing Methodology: Packing the bottom row of fruit on its side keeps the fruit lower in the carton, reducing fruit damage (particularly neck damage) • Carton Ventilation: The carton is open, facilitating ventilation and air circulation during transit and giving ripeners greater control over temperature management • Fruit Ripening: The ripening stage is critical, and a minimum six-day cycle at between 13-15 degrees prior to delivery to retailers.

And potential pitfalls

• considerably less room for error in comparison to either the one- or twopiece 13kg carton • the larger mass of fruit leads to higher respiration rates in the 15kg carton; the tighter pack results in a decrease in air circulation and ventilation, and can lead to over or uneven ripeness if cartons are not adequately vented and cooled • the colour stage of fruit should be held back slightly to stage 3 to 3.5 for arrival into the Distribution Centre (DC), with stage 4 only if necessary • less fruit over-pack; only 400-500g (or approximately 3 per cent) compared with 700-800g (or approximately 5.8 per cent) in the 13kg. This can result in retailers receiving slightly less fruit on a pro-rated basis and a data discrepancy when comparing scanned sales to DC outgoings, and an initial adverse result suggesting waste levels have increased after having transitioned to the 15kg carton. Once the transition period has been cycled through, then the difference caused by the over-pack will be nullified • the one-piece allows less room for error for growers, more stringent handling and use of specific secondary packaging and packing methodology. The project concluded the one-piece is probably most suitable for growers who are prepared to take the additional time, care and attention and work collaboratively with their retailer customers to ensure issues affecting fruit quality do not arise.