Shelf-life study for novel produce trays

January 12, 2024
Oranges placed in a reusable produce bag

Tracy Butt, M.Sc. (PI) CFRIL, Nicole Detlor, P. Eng. (PI) CFRIL, Dushyant Puri, PMP (PM) SMART Centre  

In 2022, the federal government implemented regulations to prohibit the use of single use plastics in certain industries. As a result, an increased demand for alternative packaging for the food industry began. Bio-Origins, located in Cambridge, Ont., provides biodegradable and compostable fresh produce packaging, serving as an alternative to plastic and Styrofoam.  

With the goal of developing new produce trays, Bio-Origins partnered with the Conestoga Food Research & Innovation Lab (CFRIL) and Conestoga's SMART Centre on an eight-month project. During the first phase of the project, the SMART Centre designed lids needed for the containers that would be tested by CFRIL during their shelf-life study. Using designs from Bio-Origins, the SMART Centre created drawings and the subsequent lids using food-grade polymer materials.  

A key component of the shelf-life study was to test the moisture of the packaging. By doing so, the CFRIL team identified the impact of moisture levels on the packaging's shelf-life. Next, CFRIL stored fruit and vegetables in the trays and simulated real grocery store conditions to further test the shelf-life of the packaging. The result of these tests allowed CFRIL to make recommendations to Bio-Origins to aid with the development of a new packaging technology.  Short term, this helps Bio-Origins Increase market share and revenue but longer term, it enables them to utilize new process, reduce the carbon footprint of their customers, and contribute to a more sustainable future.  

We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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