The vast majority of climacteric fruit (ripen after harvest) such as banana, mango, tomato, avocado, pear, papaya etc. are picked green and ripened in large ethylene ripening room facilities at or near their point of consumption. This process causes a significant delay in the fruit supply chain (4-9 days) and forces fruit producers to rely upon the ripening infrastructure in most major consumer markets around the world.
Researchers at The University of Queensland have developed a method for encapsulating ethylene gas into a highly concentrated powder. A small amount of this powder can be used to ripen fruit in transit. In-transit ripening is of significant interest to the industry with the opportunity to substantially reduce time to market and minimise the pressure on large and expensive ripening room infrastructure. Between 2011 and 2014 UQ researchers have used <500 g of this ethylene powder to control ripen several 20 tonne commercial shipments of mangoes during a four day transit. The mangoes were ready for market 6 days before mangoes that were not ripened in transit.
A package of the Ripestuff™ ethylene powder product is not classified as a dangerous good and can therefore be used on all types of transport vessels making it cheaper, easier and safer to use than any other form of fruit ripening. More than 30 companies around the world have expressed interest in trialling this technology and customer trials are anticipated commence in late 2014 with distribution to national and international customers for further trailing in 2015.