A preliminary assessment of tomato fruit susceptibility to in-transit damage in Fiji

S. Kumar, S.J.R. Underhill
Poor produce quality and inconsistent supply currently impede smallholder vegetable growers in Fiji from accessing high-value domestic markets. One proposed option to overcome these constraints is to adopt a more centralised approach to product grading and storage, based around a network of regional ripening and packaging facilities. In terms of tomato growers, this would necessitate reconfiguring existing postharvest supply chains, removing the need for on-farm ripening, and transport of harvest-green mature fruit. This preliminary study was undertaken to determine whether the alternative transport of mature hard-green fruit would affect the incidence of bruising and impact damage. Fruits of four ripening stages were commercially transported to Suva municipal market, and then stored for seven days at 20-28°C (ambient market storage conditions). Fruit deformation due to compression in the carton was significantly less in mature-hard green fruits. We found that mature hard-green stage was least susceptible to bruising (8%) compared with turning stage tomatoes (12%), commercially traded fruit (16%) and light-red (21%). For mature green tomatoes most damage (36%) was in the middle inner level of the carton. Light red and turning tomatoes placed in the bottom inside layer displayed highest level of damage, 62 and 46% respectively. Based on this preliminary trial, transporting hard-green tomatoes is likely to reduce the risk of in-transit postharvest damage, compared to the current smallholder practices of transporting fully-ripe fruit.
Kumar, S. and Underhill, S.J.R. (2016). A preliminary assessment of tomato fruit susceptibility to in-transit damage in Fiji. Acta Hortic. 1120, 423-428
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1120.65
postharvest wastage, Pacific, smallholder, supply chain, horticulture

Acta Horticulturae