JD Cooling and Worldwide Fruit launch Softripe facility

The technology effectively ‘listens and talks’ to the fruit through its respiration gases, adapting to its needs during the ripening cycle and guiding it through an organic ripening process

JD Cooling Group and Worldwide Fruit (WFL) has unveiled a Softripe avocado ripening facility in Spalding, Lincolnshire. A total of 132 pallet spaces using Softripe technology are now in operation with fruit planned to arrive nationally in stores in October 2020.

The technology is aimed to increase efficiency, streamline processes - including the reduction of secondary handling – and ultimately result in greater consistency and quality of the ripened fruit. It’s hoped to contribute to lower wastage through a reduced need for destructive testing and significant energy reduction.

Additionally, the company claims, multiple independent taste tests and shelf life trials have shown Softripe avocados have enhanced quality, flavour.

John Dye, Chairman JD Cooling Group, said: “It is not very often something comes along in our industry that is game changing, but Softripe is most certainly that, and indeed the biggest thing to happen in the ripening sector for decades. This facility is going to be a total revolution for the ripe and ready marketplace.

The ripening process uses a completely gas-tight chamber together with CO2 absorbers and nitrogen generators to enable levels of ethylene, CO2 and oxygen to be controlled. This allows the software’s algorithms to establish suitable conditions for ripening every time, the company says.

Softripe effectively ‘listens and talks’ to the fruit through its respiration gases, adapting to its needs during the ripening cycle and guiding it through an organic ripening process.

“There’s a lot of noise out there at the moment about other ripening systems, but Softripe is the only one in the world that’s able to control ethylene, CO2 and oxygen levels by communicating directly with the fruit,“ Dye said. “It also allows suppliers to remove their post ripening grading process and destructive testing and is the only system that can achieve such dramatic increases in shelf life.”

The key benefits of the technology are the lack of stress caused to the fruit, lower temperatures used, finite control of oxygen, carbon dioxide and ethylene, and the relative humidity levels being far higher.

Neal Collishaw, Operations Director at Worldwide Fruit, said: “Our key strategic direction is to deliver zero waste in all of our processes. Avocados are a notoriously difficult product to ripen in a traditional ripening system. Post-ripening, we still had variability amongst the raw material which can end up on the shelf, leading to consumer dissatisfaction. Softripe now ensures we have a more consistent, superior product and has enabled us to remove the secondary grading from our processes. Along with the reduced ripening cycles, there are clear benefits to producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers.”

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