Award-winning Softripe® vs Conventional Ripening Systems
Whilst JD Cooling has evolved our traditional ripening systems to incorporate advances in technology such as EC fans and the use of secondary glycol, with its enhanced control of temperature and relative humidity, as well as our innovative heat recovery system which effectively delivers all of the heat required for ripening using “free” waste heat from the cooling process, we had been searching for a big step forward in fruit ripening technology and a few years ago entered into discussions with Frigotec. The German company was in advanced stages of developing a revolutionary new ripening process, working with a Brazilian company who were specialists in controlled atmosphere storage techniques. Together they produced “Softripe®”, the future for ripening across the globe for decades to come.
Ripening systems used across the globe have fundamentally not changed greatly for decades. The process basically offers a room able to apply heat, ethylene injection and CO2 venting together with cooling, either to provide the overall temperature control, or sometimes used for blast chilling at the end of a ripening cycle.
The conventional ripening rooms will be designed a specific type of fruit, which means they are limited in application. Banana ripening rooms (first pallet in, last pallet out) are too narrow for ripening stone fruit such as avocados, where pallets will reach optimum condition at different times. Furthermore, traditional ripening relies on ongoing human intervention to monitor colour of bananas and flesh pressure of stone fruit. This can lead to inconsistencies and increase staffing costs due to constant supervision and management requirements.
How does Softripe® differ from conventional or other ripening storage facilities?
Traditional ripening processes offer varying ways of delivering air circulation through pallets of produce alongside the application of heat and ethylene, general temperature control and CO2 purging. Operated under good management with equally well planned growing, harvesting and logistics, these systems deliver good quality fruit according to planned order demand.
Unlike traditional ripening systems, Softripe® operates within a totally gas tight store. This is a key part of the process whereby we can sense the respiratory gases that are given off by the fruit. Once the sealed environment has allowed the Softripe® system to analyse the atmosphere created by the fruit itself, it will advise the ripening manager as to when the fruit will be ready for out-loading. Softripe rooming rooms can therefore be used to ripen a variety of soft and stone fruit – from avocados and mangos to bananas.
It will then commence with a ripening process consisting of up to 9 different cycles within this identified time before the fruit can be out-loaded for despatch. Softripe® simulates the natural ripening of the fruit to ensure that they ripen without added stress. During this process Softripe® can control oxygen, CO2, ethylene, temperature and humidity to finite levels which have been calculated to allow the fruit to be ripened to the optimum quality and consistency. Unlike other systems, Softripe® only needs the minimum amount of ethylene, which is better for the fruit and mitigates any negative side effects.