Effect of packing units during long distance transportation on the quality and shelf-life of tomatoes under commercial supply conditions
The effect of various packing units on tomato fruit shelf-life and quality was studied, where fruit of three maturity stages (red, pink and green) were transported using plastic bulk bins (468 kg capacity) and carton boxes (8 kg capacity). The fruit was transported along three supply routes, with each route having varying distances and road quality. The fruit was thereafter stored under ambient or cold storage conditions (11°C) after treatment using chlorinated water or deionised water. Sampling and analysis of fruit colour, firmness, weight loss, pH and marketability was carried out over a 30-day storage period. Fruit harvested at green maturity stage had a mean hue angle of 68° while fruit harvested at pink and red maturity stages had a hue angle of 55 and 49°, respectively. Fruit maturity at harvest and storage environment had a significant (p≤0.05) effect on all quality parameters measured. Fruit stored in cold storage had significantly (p≤0.05) better physicochemical quality attributes compared to fruit stored in ambient conditions. The Mooketsi-Pietermaritzburg route (EM) had a shorter distance and the best road quality (70% of road had IRI values less than 2.5 m km‑1) compared to Point Drift-Pietermaritzburg (PD) (58%) and Musina-Pietermaritzburg (ZZ) (63%) route. Fruit transported through EM route had 5 and 10% higher mean marketability compared to fruit transported through PD and ZZ, respectively. Handling using boxes rather than bins improved the fruit marketability by 8% and reduced the cumulative weight loss by 1%. The study recommends use of modular bins made of softer materials to minimize tomato fruit damage. Similarly, the study has shown that timely repair of in-farm roads and cold chain maintenance as important avenues of mitigating postharvest losses in commercial tomato supply chains.
Cherono, K. and Workneh, T.S. (2020). Effect of packing units during long distance transportation on the quality and shelf-life of tomatoes under commercial supply conditions. Acta Hortic. 1292, 165-174
IRI, road quality, handling conditions, postharvest quality, tomato fruit injuries