In 2010, AgroFresh will mark half a decade of successful commercial use of the SmartFresh Quality System for kiwifruits in Chile, but the company believes it is still far from having reached maturity levels for the use of its freshness protection system in the country: “Chilean kiwifruit production has experienced important growth factors over the past years, with rising fruit production and the successful implementation of harvest management and ripening criteria,” explains Jorge Garcia, Account Manager for AgroFresh in Chile. “The increase in production equires more flexibility in marketing the fruits, and SmartFresh technology can help take away the pressure to sell.”
About 90% of Chile’s kiwifruit are exported to overseas markets, with about 65% going to Europe every year. The strict retail specifications of the European market present a challenge for these highly sensitive, easily softening fruits. For example, specifications for Hayward range from 0.8 for the ready-to-eat market
in the UK to 1.0 for the hard-market of the continent.
With the development of new premium brands supposed to boost consumption, maintaining firmness, color and texture over the long supply chain is a challenge for Chilean exporters. AgroFresh is already working with customers in Chile who represent more than 75% of the market: “We have used SmartFresh for about 3,500,000 boxes so far,” said Garcia, “and we anticipate even more for this year, because our technology significantly reduces the number of failed pallets at the port of arrival. In addition, the better shelf life assure sretailers good quality.” Experience has proven SmartFresh technology can maintain firmness on the shelf for 3-7 days on average, with normal softening and no effect on taste, Garcia confirmed.
According to Jefferson Nunes, who oversees AgroFresh’s commercial activities in South America, the repeated success of the SmartFresh Quality System in Chile is also the result of strong cooperation with customers, because the use recommendations of the technology are closely linked to the fruit condition at harvest. Determining exactly the right harvest period in relation to fruit quality and fruit temperature is important to the successful use of SmartFresh technology with Chilean kiwifruit: “Kiwifruit producers have put into place a real harvest policy over the past years, which was certainly one of the key factors for offering better quality fruits to retailers. We are proud to be part of this constant quality improvement, and we work continuously with our customers to make sure that their fruits arrive in optimum conditions in the import market. With SmartFresh technology, they can actually offer their fruits for an additional 4 to 6 weeks.”
AgroFresh also hopes that SmartFresh technology will allow its kiwifruit customers to secure new markets inthe continuously growing fresh-cut sector, where maintenance of firmness and green color are essential.