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Ripening program

A revolution in fresh produce

With our unique ripening process, we introduced something completely new in 2005: ready-to-eat exotic fruit. This invention proved a real breakthrough in the fresh produce sector. Ready-to-eat products – recognisable by the red arrow on the EAT ME label – made their way into consumers' shopping carts in much larger numbers. The ready-to-eat range now consists of avocados, mangoes, kiwis, papayas and plums.

Because we deliver these products ready-to-eat, consumers can enjoy them immediately. With ripened products, consumers can take the guessing out of the moment of consumption. It goes without saying that ripening takes time and energy. At Nature's Pride, we don't mind at all. Supplying ready-to-eat products increases the shelf-life of products. As a result, waste on the shelves is reduced. And thanks to our collaboration with Apeel – a clever natural coating around the fruit – shelf life is increased even further. Sales in Europe have exploded for each of the fruits we supply ready-to-eat. This is why the process is also a very attractive premise for retailers.

A complex interplay of factors

The ripening process is a complex interplay of factors. It starts at the cultivation farms. Together with growers, we look for varieties that are suitable for ripening. The time of harvesting is also important. That is why, for example, we harvest avocados and mangos later than usual, so that the fruits can develop more natural nutrients. This benefits the ripening process and the taste. Our ripening masters regularly travel to our growers to advise them.

Specific ripening program
We check the ripeness of the fruits when they arrive. This first check forms the basis for a specific ripening program: each batch requires its own temperature and humidity, exactly according to the climate in the country of origin. The ripening masters sample the batch every day, to assess how far along the ripening process is. Where necessary, the temperature is adjusted, among other things. The temperature starts off high for the first days of the ripening process and is then gradually reduced, to extend the shelf life. Ripening involves real craftsmanship, whereby experience and feeling are very important.

 

Complex interplay of factors

Sorting with cameras

Once the fruits are ripe, they first go through the sorting machine one by one. Cameras in the machine check the fruits for any internal and external imperfections. Fruits with imperfections are removed. Based on various measurements, the machine determines whether a fruit is indeed Ready-to-Eat. If not, the fruit is returned to the ripening cell. As a result, every product with the red arrow on the sticker is top quality and tasty.

Ripening cells
The unique ripening program has been continuously expanded. We now have 8 ripening masters and a ripening researcher in-house. Currently, we have 50 ripening cells. This number will be further expanded to 95 in the next eighteen months.