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Peakfresh USA, which sells a pallet bag and box liners that it claims significantly increase shelf life of fruits and vegetables, is armed with more research to back up that claim.

Greg Ganzerla, president of the firm, which has its offices in Lake Forest, CA, in southern Orange County, told The Produce News March 11, “We are just about to come out with results of a new study done with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that proves that the Peakfresh bags do a great job.”

He explained that the experiment involved 14 pallets of strawberries loaded in Castroville, CA, and shipped to New York. Seven of the pallets were shipped in a Peakfresh pallet bag while the other seven received the Tectrol treatment. Tectrol has been the industry standard to extend strawberry shelf life for close to four decades. The Tectrol process involves bagging a pallet of berries, injecting the bag with a modified atmosphere and then taping the bag closed so the integrity of the atmosphere remains during shipment. The modified atmosphere treatment basically results in putting the product to “sleep” so that the natural decaying process is halted during transit.

The Peakfresh bag is impregnated with minerals that are also designed to slow the aging process as well to extend shelf life.

“We had USDA inspectors inspect the fruit here and again when it arrived,” Mr. Ganzerla said. “The Peakfresh pallets met U.S. No. 1 grade standards at arrival.”

Mr. Ganzerla said the Peakfresh and Tectrol systems, as well as some other pallet bagging systems on the market, are priced competitively, which is a cost of about 20 cents per tray. He readily admits that Tectrol has the greater percentage of market share because it has a proven track record that dates back 40 years. “Everyone knows Tectrol. That is the leader, but there are other systems out there — and we are one of them — that work just as well, if not better, and have other advantages.”

Mr. Ganzerla said while some systems involve the use of large machines and a need for multiple people, the Peakfresh bag can be applied by one person in less than a minute — closer to 20 seconds.

“An entire load can be bagged by one guy in a matter of minutes,” he said. “Our system involves less labor and less energy use.”

Peakfresh also markets a box liner that fits inside a standard produce carton, and again offers longer shelf life, according to Mr. Ganzerla. “We’ve made some great inroads in Mexico recently, especially in the pepper line. But we also have some shippers using the liner with their tomatoes, cukes and eggplants.”

For a cost of 15 to 25 cents per carton, the Peakfresh executive said shippers can buy themselves a pretty good insurance policy against bad arrivals. “I ask shippers how much did they lose in bad arrivals last year. People don’t like to talk about it but if they had $50,000 in losses, they probably could have eliminated them with $4,000 in liner bags.”

Mr. Ganzerla said there are many different issues that can delay a shipment, especially from Mexico into the United States. If the product is packed with a box liner, he said shelf life increases by as much as three times. “We just did an experiment with asparagus. We bought some down the street at the local store, put it in a Peakfresh bag and it lasted 26 days.”

For that experiment the company used its Peakfresh retail bags, which are available for consumers and work in the same way. Mr. Ganzerla admits that the company does not expect “to hit a home run” with its consumer offering because it is not a high-clarity bag.

He said the Peakfresh products — pallet bags, carton liners and consumer bags — are transparent but they do not have the super-clear property that consumer tend to like. For commercial application, he said, the Peakfresh clarity is perfect.

As an added benefit, Mr. Ganzerla said, all Peakfresh USA bags are made in the United States in its plant in Los Angeles. He said shipments to U.S. customers can be achieved very quickly after an order is placed.