MAP Conservation Technology Key to Blueberry Exports – Tierramarillano – News from Atacama and Chile

  •  The packaging system provided by Indura, a part of Air Products Group, is successfully used so that these fruits reach their destination in optimum condition.
  •  Chile is the second largest producer of this food worldwide.

October through April is blueberry export season in Chile. The country is a pioneer in the process. It is the second largest producer of the most prized fruit in the world and the first in the Southern Hemisphere. Advances such as Modified Atmospheric Technology (MAP) improve the possibilities of transporting these products in optimal conditions to different corners of the planet.

„Chile was one of the first countries in the Southern Hemisphere to export blueberries during the off-season. It started in the category three decades ago and has been number one for many years. Today, despite losing a position, Chile is the main consumer of blueberries, and it continues to play a major role in supplying the North American market, both fresh and frozen. plays,” says Andrea Lopez, Indura’s wine and food business development engineer. Belongs to Air Products Group. The company that supplies the MAP packaging system is a technology leader in the use of gases for the food industry and has been involved in its use in horticulture for over 30 years.

The expert highlights the benefits of using MAP technology in marketing blueberries abroad. „Thanks to this option, we can ensure that a high percentage of the transported fruit reaches its destination in good condition, which makes the business more profitable. Meanwhile, for the final consumer, a fresh product with natural characteristics is obtained,” he explains.

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What is MAP technology?
MAP technology is the most recommended packaging method for preserving food, fruits and vegetables. With this system, the environment in contact with the product, whether in bags (MAP) or container (AC), is replaced by a high-purity gas or mixture of gases, which is temperature-controlled during both storage and transport. Adequate air tightness of packaging or containers allows extending the useful life of food.

„In the specific case of blueberries, in addition to a certain temperature control in the container, the first sweep with nitrogen and carbon dioxide, if necessary, to establish the initial atmosphere and the percentages of the gas mixture are adjusted according to the variety. Transport or the customer’s need,” explains the Indura expert.

This is not the only technology used to preserve fruit on long trips, but it has significant differences from other options. The engineer points out that primitive technologies are based on the use of cold, which, to a certain extent, helps to slow down the metabolism of the fruit. However, over time, based on the level of competitiveness in the international market and new quality parameters defined by current consumers, technologies such as MAP and AC are increasingly used.

„To define the type of technology, it is important to know the way in which the product will be consumed. In the case of fruits used as a basis for jam or ice cream toppings, for example, cryogenic freezing and refrigerated transport can be used, but for fresh-looking fruits and quick availability to the final consumer, controlled conditions or modified works well,” explains Lopez.

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Despite the country’s leading position in the export of blueberries, there are ongoing challenges related to post-pandemic demand, climate and the emergence of new and stronger competitors such as Peru. „At Air Products Indura, as a technology leader in these applications, it is important to work with producers and/or exporters of the Chilean agricultural industry to improve the country’s competitive position according to the needs of the current market,” he concludes.

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