ART is a microprocessor controlled fully automated ripening technology of fruits, especially bananas. In the Ripening Room temperature and ethylene concentration are controlled so that bananas are ripe in an adjustable term and thereafter kept at the optimal warehousing temperature.
As the ethylene source the ethylene generator GENET which is placed inside the ripening box. ASEKO delivers the ripening technology of third generation, fully automated, with the possibility to chose the normal, shortcut or prolonged ripening time.
As ethylene source the portable ethylene generator GENET is delivered.
What is a Banana?
We all know that a banana is a yellow fruit with inedible peel and sweet flesh inside it. Usually they are found in supermarkets waiting to be eaten. But this banana, namely Cavendish banana, is one of dozens of banana varieties cultivated all over the world. In tropical countries banana is nearly the most important crop: banana fruits are consumed both fresh and cooked as a main dish, garnish or dessert. Leaves and stems of banana plants are used for cattle feeding or textile production. Some nation even brew beer with
banana as the main ingredient!
“How is it possible?!” you would ask. The answer is following: 2 wild species of banana were cultivated and crossbred for centuries, and the result of this work is a wide range of banana varieties. Fruit size can vary from 5 to 30 centimeters; it can be either as firm as a fresh potato or it can melt in one‘s mouth; its color goes from green through yellow to red and even brown. But most of these cultivars stay on the local market only. According to statistics, almost 50% of produced bananas are those of Cavendish variety, which are intended for exporting to developed countries.
Cavendish Banana Supply Chain
From a botanical point of view a banana plant is a grass, but as tall as 4 meters. The corm of a plant emerges a shoot, and in 1 year the plant flowers. Developing of a bunch takes up to 4 months. It is harvested mature, but not ripen. That is, the fruit is not edible at harvest time: it is very firm, contains latex and the flesh is high in starch. Cut off bunches are then transported from the plantation to the packaging house. The first operation there is inspection and dividing the fruits into processing and market grades. If a bunch is chosen to be marketed, it is cut into separate hands and carefully washed in special pools with additions of fungicides. Clean hands are inspected again and cut into clusters of 4-10 fingers each and labelled with brand name. The last step in the packaging house is packing bananas into character 18 kg boxes and cooling to 14°C. Now bananas are ready for their transoceanic journey. All these operations from a plant to a ready-to-go box should be performed over 48 hours.
Bananas are grown in tropical climate, and the biggest exporters of Cavendish bananas are Ecuador (29% of world banana trade), Costa Rica (13%), Philippines (12%) and Colombia (10%). In order to deliver high quality fruits to final consumer (for example, in the USA or Europe) bananas are harvested in unripe state. During oversea transportation bananas stay in a stable condition: respiration and transpiration rates are kept at very low level, and basically the fruit ‚sleeps‘ – all processes (catabolic and metabolic) are considerably delayed. This effect is reached due to temperature and relative humidity regulation and gas composition control inside the loaded cameras – so called reefers. The most important goal is to keep bananas without any changes. If error occurred, bananas can start ripening. Even one box of ripening bananas spoils the whole reefer: the ethylene gas produced by ripening fruits initiate ripening of neighbor hands, and this is a chain reaction. The matter of undesired ripening is that shelf-life of ripen bananas is 5-10 days versus up to 90 days of green ones.
In the destination point bananas are artificially ripened in special ripening cameras according to relevant technology. Ripening process is initiated, that means that all processes in the fruit are enhanced, in contrast to hybernation during transportation. The simplest natural hormone – ethylene (CH2=CH2) – is the hormone of senescence, and is used for artificial ripening of climacteric crops, such as banana, tomato, kiwifruit, apple, etc. Usually bananas are loaded into ripening cameras, warmed up to 14-18°C and exposed to 1000 ppm ethylene for 24 hours. During ripening the starch content in the flesh declines from 20% to 0%, and the soluble sugars content rises from 1-3% to 20%. Chlorophyl – the green pigment – breaks down and reveals yellow carotenoids. These changes are the most important ones, because they are the easiest to detect. Actually, change in the peel color is the essential property for ripeness stage determination. In the world banana industry a banana peel color chart is widely used. According to it, a green banana at harvesting time is graded with 1, a banana with green and yellow peel right after artificial ripening is graded with 4, and a yellow banana – with 7.
The Longest Journey
Bananas‘ journey begins with palletizing and loading into trucks or trains which deliver pallets to the nearest sea port. Internal cooling should be provided to keep the temperature of bananas at 12-14°C. Then pallets with bananas are transferred from a truck or train to the ship. Special banana ships are used for sea transportation. Their airtight and thermally insulated cameras provide the optimal conditions for prolonged shelf-life. That means, that by keeping low temperature, high air humidity and low oxygen green bananas are successfully transported to the destination point. Almost no changes in the green fruit appear during 3-4 weeks.
By reaching the distribution center in the destination point, bananas are supposed to undergo the process of artificial ripening as soon as possible. This process usually takes 4 and up to 8 days. The first step of ripening is heating the fruits up to 14-18°C and injection of ethylene in 1000 ppm concentration.
These conditions initiate the biochemical reactions in the fruit. The next days temperature is gradually decreasing and active ventilation is applied. The temperature curve depends on the number of ripening days. The final temperature should be around 14°C
and kept until, during and after further distribution
to preserve the high quality of final product.