Netherlands-based Interko, which has been partnering for the past five years on research and development with Fyffes, has created a new Containerised Ripening Room that can fit inside a standard insulated refrigeration container.
The easy-to-build and mobile units allow operators the flexibility to not only house a ripening room In smaller facilities but also the option to move containers from their room to other locations via ship or truck. Operators can also enjoy cost savings in one of two ways – by not having to build out an entire ripening area and also because the units can be purchased or rented from Interko.
The company says the containers can ripen a variety of fruits, including bananas, avocados, mangoes, papayas, pears, apricots, peaches, kiwifruit and tomatoes and also be used for the de-greening of oranges and lemons.
“Interko first attempted to design a ripening container in 1999, and there have been other attempts within the industry,” Chris Maat, Managing Partner/Director at Interko, said. “Now, after working with Fyffes for the past five years, Interko has tested and refined this system to the point where we have 120 container rooms operating successfully.”
The ripening containers are 2.6 metres wide by 12 metres long and have a small control room. Interko says they each can hold up to 20 full-sized pallets, stacked with up to nine boxes of fruit. Those who wish to have a “gas-tight, high-speed roll door” also can have that option.
“The advantage of having a smaller space is the reduced volume of free air that is contained within the room, which allows for more direct control over the ripening process, compared with a standard ripening room,” Mast said. “The operator relies on the sensors and control system, rather than walking down the middle aisle to monitor the development of the fruit.
“We have proven over the last five years that it is possible to ripen fruit to perfection without manual controls or inspections. In fact, we have found an improvement in fruit quality precisely because operators must follow a stringent ripening process via the control room, rather than allowing themselves to be influenced by physical inspections.”
Aside from the new Containerised Ripening Room, Interko offers three other ripening room options – Ultimo, Axesso and Optimo. It has installed more than 7,000 ripening rooms worldwide.