Berries Stay Fresh: Agrovision’s Game-Changing Storage Tech

Agrovision, a prominent global supplier of premium berries, has announced a groundbreaking partnership with Seattle-based startup RipeLocker to integrate its patented low-atmosphere vacuum chambers into its supply chain. This strategic move aims to revolutionize the storage and shelf life of Agrovision’s berry offerings, which include consumer-facing brand The Fruitist’s new varietals of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

RipeLocker’s innovative chambers, described by Agrovision as the “first cost-effective, mass volume, postharvest storage solution tailormade for berries,” have the potential to significantly extend the freshness of berries. By creating a near-vacuum or ultra-low oxygen environment, the technology effectively puts fruit to sleep, delaying aging and decay while maintaining optimal freshness for up to 12 weeks without compromising quality. This is a remarkable improvement, tripling the typical shelf life of berries, according to Agrovision cofounder Steve Magami.

“The implications of this advancement are far-reaching,” said Magami. “We can ensure prolonged freshness, access more distant markets, and introduce high-flavor varietals previously limited by shorter shelf lives.” At the retail level, consumers will benefit from berries that retain more aroma, crunch, flavor, and higher nutritional value, indistinguishable from fresh-picked, all while reducing shrinkage.

Cofounded by George Lobisser and his son Kyle in 2016, RipeLocker has developed reusable, portable low-atmosphere chambers that significantly extend the post-harvest life of various produce, including blueberries, walnuts, and even roses. The technology works by dynamically controlling the oxygen and CO2 levels inside the chamber, reducing respiration by more than 50% on average. This controlled environment delays ripening and suppresses fungal pathogens, enabling producers to pick riper, tastier fruit and store it without the use of chemicals.

Julian Lewis, RipeLocker’s VP of Sales, elaborated on the technology’s capabilities in a recent interview with AgFunderNews. “We now have this chamber where basically, you put fresh produce in it, you pump it down [suck out the air to create a near-vacuum], and you can dynamically control the oxygen and CO2 levels inside.” This approach maintains the atmosphere at a level tailor-made for the produce type, effectively putting it to sleep.

RipeLocker is currently active in the blueberry, cherry, and flower markets and is testing its technology with other products, including nuts and fresh hops. Unlike modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), which typically stores blueberries for three to four weeks, RipeLocker can extend storage to eight weeks and, in some cases, up to 12 weeks. This ultra-low oxygen environment allows for higher carbon dioxide levels, which control senescence and inhibit ethylene action, a plant hormone that accelerates ripening.

The partnership between Agrovision and RipeLocker also has significant logistical implications. As Lewis pointed out, the technology enables a shift from air freight to ocean freight, reducing costs and environmental impact. “For [German discount retailer] Lidl in Europe, for example, they are basically saying that in the future, they won’t want produce that’s air freighted because it’s bad for the environment,” said Lewis. “So if you want to get fresh produce from Latin America to Europe and the product can’t survive an ocean journey, you’re going to lose your access to Lidl. In a RipeLocker, you can literally take the slow boat.”

The chambers are designed to work in stationary storage applications and in transit, fitting into shipping containers and maintaining dynamic control over long ocean journeys. This capability opens up new market opportunities, allowing Agrovision to reach more distant markets with fresh, high-quality berries.

With this partnership, Agrovision and RipeLocker are poised to set a new standard in the berry supply chain, offering consumers fresher, more flavorful berries while reducing waste and environmental impact.

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