Avocado consumption is rising rapidly not only in Europe but also globally. Consumption is being propelled by the healthy eating and of course, the increased availability of tasty and convenient ready-to-eat avocados. The last decade EU availability and consumption has actually increased by 150 %. But there are many challenges when shipping tropical fruits, such as avocado, all over the world.
We all know it is bad for the environment to import and ship fruit on a global scale so when are at the local supermarket and you see piles of over-ripened Avocado, that neither you or likely someone else is going to buy, it makes you feel a little sad. This pile of fruit well represents the 30 % of global food being wasted instead of eaten. But what can we do about it?
The optimum storage conditions for Avocado vary by growing condition, length of storage and its maturity. When the fruit hits the supermarket it is important that the fruit just has ripened or is about to after being stored a day or two in room temperature. In general; unripe avocado should be stored with in high humidity (around 95% RH) and at low temperature from 5 °-12° and as the fruit ripens the colder can it handle and late seasoned fruit can handle down to 4 degrees. At temperatures below 3 degrees Avocado is generally chilling damaged, the flesh of the fruit goes brown, the skin shows sunken spots and is also going brown. As Avocado ripens it generates carbon dioxide and ethylene, something that must be ventilated away as it can be detrimental to fruit quality.
At harvest time avocado is picked and placed into avocado lugs, custom built boxes with ventilation holes allowing air to circulate around the fruit. These boxes are generally placed on pallets and to ensure maximum contact between cold air and fruit, air should not be allowed to bypass pallets, but should be forced through them. The pallets should therefore completely fill the transport vehicle and more important, the container, as it is in this container that fruit is stored for over half the storage period. The boxes should also be equally filled to evenly distribute air through pallets.
As you might understand there are many challenges in shipping and storing avocados and there are lots opportunities where carelessness or lack of knowledge affects the shelf life of the fruit that ultimately reaches your store.
CargoBeacon provides end-to-end monitoring. So what does that mean when it comes to shipping avocados? Simply put, farmers and pickers can equip every single box of avocado with a CargoBeacon logger device, the condition of all of these boxes can be monitored all through the whole shipping process and current status can be provided in near-real time. This means cold chain deviations can be closely monitored and deviations from it are reduced. The CargoBeacon logger devices can even be part of the shipment throughout wholesale to retail and if complete transparency is desired even end customers, as you and me, could be provided access to data provided by the CargoBeacon logger at the local supermarket. Likely the information provided at the supermarket would be of higher level and may include pictures and information about the origin. At the wholesale level quality data (such as historic information about temperature, humidity and bumps) would be of outer most interest.
A shipment of Avocado may actually result in hundreds of information exchanges in between different entities. Some use electronic delivery notes, others use paper and there are even hand written delivery notes. For some shipments it actually happens that border related trade costs, such as manually handling shipping notes, may be higher than the shipping cost itself. Here CargoBeacon provides an excellent tool to automate shipping notifications. Each and every box carrying a CargoBeacon notifies about its presence and current status to surrounding environment. Gateways along the shipment route automatically provide server side updates around current status and the position for this box. On the server side additional information is stored to automate the process of custom clearance and arrival notifications.
Implementing CargoBeacon meant that feedback around shipping conditions and improvements was provided to pickers and shippers from the wholesale level already after the first shipment. Six months later shipping had been improved in such ways so that the average shelf life was extended by an amazing 20%. The fruit quality had also become more evenly distributed and boxes with bad, fermented avocado due to inadequate supply of atmospheric oxygen and completely ceased.
By providing transparency to end customer, aiming from farm to fork higher propensity to buy can be expected with increased loyalty for this particular avocado / farm and with a higher willingness to pay.