Micro-perforations in the upper film extend shelf life without preservatives or gas in packages of fresh-cut mango from Mandar in France. Source: Multivac Sepp Haggenmuller GmbH.

Controlled atmosphere packaging (CAP) for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables typically has required lasers to produce micro-perforated films, driving up costs. A mechanical process from the German firm Multivac is changing the cost equation for processors in Europe.

Known as FreshSAFE, the microscopic perforations can be produced in line on a packaging machine’s upper web or before the film arrives at the plant. Either way, packagers benefit from lower film costs.

Multivac researchers have worked with food scientists at the University of Gent and University of California-Davis to determine the optimum exchange ratios for oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen for a variety of produce, both cut and whole. Companies in five European countries are using FreshSAFE to extend shelf life without preservatives or gas.

The Greenery, a major fruit company in the Netherlands, had used clamshells to pack up to 1,000 tons of strawberries a week. Using a Multivac T-350 traysealer with a micro-perforator, the company was able to extend shelf life to nine days from six when strawberries are stored at 12