Agri Business

A box to keep the greens in colour

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on January 09, 2018

It’s fresh: A view of the high humidity storage boxes to store leafy vegetables at a SunnyBee outlet in Chennai - Photo: Bijoy Ghosh

The IIHR’s high humidity storage boxes seen helping extend the shelf-life of leafy vegetables

An unassuming storage box can change the way we buy and store greens.

It can extend the shelf-life of vegetables — mainly the greens — by up to 48 hours at room temperature while retaining the freshness and without affecting the quality or nutrition of the stored produce.

Scientists at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticulture Research have developed high humidity storage boxes that helps extend the shelf-life of leafy vegetables thereby cutting down the post-harvest losses.

The apex horticulture research institute has licensed the technology to Chennai-based Waycool Foods and Products Pvt Ltd, a supply chain company for perishables that also operates a vegetable retail chain SunnyBee, to manufacture the high humidity storage boxes, said Harinder Singh Oberoi, Head of Post Harvest Technology and Agriculture Engineering at IIHR.

Also, a large farm-to-fork retailer is deploying these boxes across the Southern states for a large scale trial soon, Oberoi said adding that the technology has started evoking good response.

A high humidity box that can store 12-15 kg of produce costs up to ₹10,000.

For high temperature regions, there’s an option of using the gel packs, which can bring down the temperature levels in the box by 6-8 degrees, he said.

“It took almost five years for us to screen and finalise the right kind of material,” said S Bhuvaneswari, Senior Scientist at IIHR, who led a team of scientists in developing the boxes.

The IIHR team has used a high quality polymer material, which is totally inert to build these boxes.

Unlike plastics, which lends its typical smell to the stored produce, the polymer used in making the high humidity airtight boxes is totally odourless, Bhuvaneswari said.

“Greens are very difficult to preserve as they wither out within few hours. The technology helps in preserving freshness and nutrition. It is also helping us from an economic point of view by reducing the losses” said Vignesh Kumar Manogaran of Waycool, which uses these storage boxes in three outlets.

Being airtight helps improve the humidity levels to up to 98 per cent in the storage box as compared to around 70 per cent outside, which, in turn, helps maintain the freshness, he said.

Waycool, which operates nine Sunnybee outlets including three mobile units, plans to deploy these boxes in the remaining outlets soon. The company, which get these boxes fabricated using the IIHR technology, has also started receiving enquiries from the interested customers, Manogaran said.

Published on December 22, 2017

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