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Best Banana Processing Practices for Sustainable Banana Supply Chain Management: Thailand Perspective



Banana exports are becoming important sources of Thailand's revenue since bananas are perceived as full of nutrients and people consume them not only as a food staple but also as a nutritious supplement. Since consumers are concerned about the health effects of chemical residue in food, it is becoming important for banana exporters to make sure bananas are not contaminated by chemicals, bacteria, mold or insects. This means improving standards in banana production processes. The receiving and packaging steps begin first, when bananas arrive from the farm. Then bananas are inspected and information is recorded. Next, bananas are weighed, tested, cleaned, cut, and packed. After the final packing data is recorded, labels are put on cartons. Finally, specific storage procedures are required before determining delivery dates for target destinations. Effective banana processing practices will sustain Thailand's competitive edge in the world banana market.
International Journal of Management Sciences and Business Research, 2014 ISSN (2226-8235) Vol-3, Issue 12 Page 1
Best Banana Processing Practices for Sustainable Banana Supply Chain Management: Thailand Perspective
Author Detail:
Dr. Adisak Suvittawat- Burapha University, International College 169 Long Hard Bangsean Road, Saen Sook,
Chonburi Thailand 20131-Correspondence: Dr.Adisak Suvittawat
Banana exports are becoming important sources of Thailand’s revenue since bananas are perceived as full of
nutrients and people consume them not only as a food staple but also as a nutritious supplement. Since consumers are
concerned about the health effects of chemical residue in food, it is becoming important for banana exporters to make
sure bananas are not contaminated by chemicals, bacteria, mold or insects. This means improving standards in
banana production processes. The receiving and packaging steps begin first, when bananas arrive from the farm.
Then bananas are inspected and information is recorded. Next, bananas are weighed, tested, cleaned, cut, and
packed. After the final packing data is recorded, labels are put on cartons. Finally, specific storage procedures are
required before determining delivery dates for target destinations. Effective banana processing practices will sustain
Thailand’s competitive edge in the world banana market.
Key words: Banana, processing, sustainable, supply chain management
Bananas are the world‟s leading fruit crop. In 2004
about 103 million tons (MT) of bananas were
produced worldwide (FAOSTAT, 2004). Very few
bananas are processed; they are mostly bought as raw
Banana exports increased from 14,080 MT in 2004, to
23,733 MT in 2013, and were valued at 8.1 million US
dollars (MUSD) and 12.8 MUSD, respectively
(UNCOMTRADE, 2014). The main countries for
banana exports are China (worth 70% of total world
exports), USA (9%), Malaysia (7%) and Japan (6 %).
As bananas are becoming one of Thailand‟s fruit
exports, Thailand needs to focus on developing better
processing practices to remain competitive in the
world market. Chemical residue testing should be done
regularly to ensure consumer health and confidence.
The most successful banana processing procedures
will lead to satisfied consumers.
Customers want processing practices that keep
bananas fresh, reduce the perishable rate, and produce
an attractive color. If Thailand‟s banana exports can
meet these standards Thailand will maintain a
competitive advantage in the world market. Research
needs to be conducted to determine the best banana
processing practices for Thailand‟s banana exports.
Literature Review
Tropical fruits and vegetables have become important
products in Japan‟s market as the Japanese are
consuming more tropical fruits and vegetables from
other countries. However Thai fruit and vegetable
exports to Japan are quite low since the competitive
market gives Japanese many choices among producers
(Kitagawa, 1991). The demand for Thai fruit in Japan
is still high but it must be good quality. If the quality
falls below consumer expectations, that producer will
never be contacted again.
Banana cutting methods that use mechanical tools
cause damage, and make bananas sensitive to weight
loss, and invasions of microorganisms. Banana quality
will decrease if bananas are damaged in the cutting
process (Maria, et al., 2011).
Banana ripening depends mainly on temperature and
weight loss, which directly influence banana quality. It
is impossible to identify just one banana quality
attribute that would explain a loss of banana quality;
this means there are many reasons for poor quality
bananas (Nunes et al., 2013).
Banana quality deteriorates during the shipping
process, since quality is affected by the temperature of
the shipping container. High temperatures can be
caused by two factors: the air itself and biological
processes in banana boxes in containers. Rotting
bananas can raise the container temperature for all the
other bananas (Jedermann et al. 2013).
Vegetable quality is very important since it reflects to
either consumer confident or market potential. Water
loss from vegetables directly affects vegetable‟s
quality and it also limit marketable of fresh vegetables.
For example, when chili pepper skins crack, the
moisture loss affects their quality. Effective
postharvest practices such as setting the right storage
temperature can reduce the loss of quality
(Jansasithorn et al. 2014).
Banana growers intensified their production systems
by increasing technology for farm inputs and their
strategies were very labor intensive. An economic
analysis noted that higher labor costs increased
agricultural subsidies (de Barros et al. 2009).
International Journal of Management Sciences and Business Research, 2014 ISSN (2226-8235) Vol-3, Issue 12 Page 2
Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has
created an awareness of health benefits and this is also
linked to concerns about illnesses caused by
contaminated food. When fruit is only washed with
water, contaminants are not reduced as well as when a
chlorine treatment is added. Therefore preparing the
washing solution, which may include Ph levels, and
the washing method become important (Alvarado-
Casillas et al. 2007).
Many companies are providing crop protection
pesticides, good packing materials, excellent
transportation systems, good storage practices and
other services, which affect banana quality and
production processes.Thai bananas are delicious, have
an attractive smell, and are softer than bananas from
other countries. However, disadvantages of Thai
bananas include thin skins and that they ripen too
In 2007 Japan allocated an annual import quota of 4
tons of Thai bananas which was expected to increase
to 8,000 tons in 2008. Banana exports to Japan outside
the quota allocation would receive a higher tariff, at 10
percent or 20 percent, depending on the export season
(Pratruangkra, 2011).The banana supply chain can be
divided into the following main processes: growing,
packing, transportation and receiving, loading at ports,
unloading at ports, ripening rate and distribution.
The analysis is based on primary data from market
surveys both at the manufacturer and farmer levels and
by applying the descriptive method to secondary data.
This study focuses on current banana processing
practices in terms of how they are affecting production
processes. The analysis was done after the survey,
which considered the best processing practices for
banana exports.The exploratory research focused on
responses to questionnaires from 14 banana collectors
who exported bananas.
The questionnaires were separated into five parts,
depending on the research parameter measurements.
The first questionnaires focused on the effects of
banana cutting, which can damage the fruit, allow
bacterial infections, cause weight loss and stimulate
the ripening process. The second questionnaires
focused on the effects of banana washing, the over
flow stream practice, the removal of unnecessary plant
parts, preparations for washing bananas, and the
impact of labor intensive processes.
The third questionnaires focused on the effects of
drying bananas. For example, allowing bananas to dry
naturally in the open air is not suitable, so an air
sprayer is recommended. Questions also addressed the
removal of unnecessary plant parts and labor-intensive
The fourth questionnaires focused on the effects of
these banana packing processes: the preferred vacuum
system; the importance of accurate weight measuring,
quality control and tracking numbers. The last
questionnaires focused on the effects of banana
storage. It is important to get the temperature right.
Containers must be clean and export cards must be
filled out accurately.
The results are identified below:
1. Cutting Process
Table 1: Banana Cutting Effects
1 Bananas are damaged
2 Bacterial infections
3 Weight loss
4 Ripening stimulation
*Number of respondents=14
Table 1 shows that the average mean effect of banana cutting is 2.70 and the S.D is 0.90. The mean of damaged
bananas is 2.58 and S.D is 1.06. The mean of bacterial infections is 2.55 and S.D is 0.75. The mean of weight loss is
2.71and S.D is 0.98, and the mean of ripening stimulation is 2.97 and S.D is 0.84.
Bacteria can easily infect bananas, particularly when storage conditions and methods are not good. Crop
contamination risk depends on many factors such as crop contact with soil. Injured plant parts are also more
susceptible to bacterial infection ( Bezanson et al. 2014).
International Journal of Management Sciences and Business Research, 2014 ISSN (2226-8235) Vol-3, Issue 12 Page 3
Moisture loss directly affects quality and limits a product‟s marketability. For example, cracked chili pepper skins are
susceptible to moisture loss, which affects their quality. Ideal storage practices, such as setting the right storage
temperature can have a significant impact on quality improvement (Jansasithorn et al. 2014).
Bananas respond directly to physical damage resulting from mechanical practices. Mechanical practices are
responsible for a banana‟s color, flavor, ripening speed and weight loss. Ideal banana processing therefore must
consider best practices for any of the machines used, in order to improve quality (Maia et al. 2011).
Bananas are tropical fruit, so they are sensitive to cold. One study looked at different temperatures over different
periods of time. It found that when bananas were kept at 4 C for 1,3 and 5 days first, keep at 20 C later, the result
show that the peel turned brown at different rates. Bananas kept for 3 days showed moderate damage and at 5 days
showed severe damage. Temperature therefore, has a significant effect on banana quality (Trejo-Marquez & Vendrell
The best cutting method is to cut the banana carefully by knife, which causes no damage and no curl on the cutting
points. After the banana is cut, it can be infected easily by bacteria, so the process after cutting must include
sterilization to prevent infection. The knife that was used needs to be sent to the location where sterilization occurs.
2. Washing Process
Table 2 Banana Washing Effects
1 Overflow stream practice
2 Unneeded plant parts removal
3 Preparing water for washing
4 Labor intensive process
*Number of respondents=14
Table 2 shows that the average mean for effects from banana washing, is 2.77 and S.D is 0.88, the mean of over flow
stream practice is 3.04 and S.D is 0.93, the mean of unneeded plant part removal is 2.79 and S.D is 0.78, the mean of
preparing water for washing is 2.65 and S.D is 0.91, and the mean of labor intensive process is 2.60 and S.D is 0.93.
The washing process uses the overflow stream method, which means bananas are washed in a stream flow in the tank
of water and this water will be changed when there is dirt in the tank. In one study fruit was inoculated with bacteria
and was then treated by just washing it with water. Then it was treated first, by washing with water and then, by
washing with water and adding 200 mg/liter of hypochlorite. The results showed that spraying with a chlorine solution
in different concentrations reduced the population of either pathogens, or E.coli, respectively. The water-washing
practice did not remove as many pathogens as the combined hypochlorite and water method. This shows that the fruit
production process must include a sanitization process at washing and packing facilities (Alvarado-Casillsa et al.
Harvesting orchard crops is very different from modern manufacturing production processes.Managers decide how
much fruit will be produced, and when it will be produced. American fruit and vegetable farmers have become
increasingly concerned about production costs and labor shortages. Most crops are harvested late, due to a lack of
labor, which leads to high production costs and less profit (Calvin & Martin 2010).
Washing methods begin with removing the hull, dirty sap and insects, The sap is washed off after cutting and
thisprocess is repeated at least one more time. The water is mixed with soap, and bananas are washed by hand to
prevent damage.
3 Drying Process
Table 3 Banana drying effect
1 Air-drying method is not suitable
2 Air sprayer is recommended
3 Unneeded plant parts removed
4 Labor intensive process
International Journal of Management Sciences and Business Research, 2014 ISSN (2226-8235) Vol-3, Issue 12 Page 4
*Number of respondents=14
Table 3 shows that the average mean effect of banana drying is 2.83 and S.D is 0.84, and that the air-drying method is
not suitable, at 2.97 and S.D is 0.94. The air sprayer is recommended because the mean is 2.95 and S.D is 0.78. The
mean of unneeded plant parts removed is 2.79and S.D is 0.92, and the mean of the labor intensive process is 2.64, and
S.D is 0.75.
The air-drying method is not recommended because it will affect the color of the banana skins and freshness. The air
sprayer is recommended because air pressure can remove bacteria and dirt particles. Sometimes bananas are not fully
clean during the washing process, which allows bacteria and some dirt particles to remain.
Strong air pressure also removes water, small insects and sap. The drying process is similar to other processes that are
labor-intensive, since it must be applied by hand.
4 Packing Process
Table 4 Effects of Banana Packing Process
1 Vacuum system is preferable
2 Weight measuring accuracy needed
3 Quality control is important
4 Accurate recording of track number
*Number of respondents=14
Table 4 shows that the average mean of the effects of the banana packing process is 2.86 and S.D is 0.84. The mean of
the vacuum system is preferable is 2.95 and S.D is 0.83. The mean of weight measuring accuracy needed, is 2.86 and
S.D is 0.79. The mean of quality control is important, is 2.85and S.D is 0.97. And the mean of accurate recording of
track number is 2.79 and S.D is 0.77.
After bananas are cleaned and dried, then the next step is the packing process. This is a critical process that involves
applying the track number sticker and quality control.
The packing process begins when the dried bananas are received. The fruit is then weighed for data collection.
Alcohol is applied to the cutting points to stop bacteria growth and insects. The trace number stickers are applied to
the banana hand for tracking. This process must be carefully done because applying the sticker carelessly could
damage the banana hand or end up on the wrong side of a banana hand.
A vacuum system was introduced in this packing process to keep bananas fresh for a longer time, and to prevent
damage from insects. This process must be carefully done and evaluated as needed to prevent mold. Mold quickly rots
the banana and threatens the quality of the fruit.
One important part of the packing process is weight measuring, which must comply with standard packing weights.
For example, packaged golden bananas exported to Japan will be rejected if they weigh more than 11.5 kg.
5 Storage Process
Table 5 Effects of Banana Storage
1 Right temperature is needed
2 Heat releasing is important
3 Containers must be clean
4 Export cards must be accurate
*Number of respondents=14
Table 5 shows that the average mean of effects of banana storage is 2.95 and S.D is 0.90, and the mean of right
temperature is needed, is 3.08 and S.D is 0.97. The mean of temperature releasing is important ,is 3.00 and S.D is
0.84, the mean of containers must be clean is 2.94 and S.D is 0.96, and finally, the mean of export cards must be
accurate is 2.79 and S.D is 0.85.
International Journal of Management Sciences and Business Research, 2014 ISSN (2226-8235) Vol-3, Issue 12 Page 5
Bananas risk losing their quality during shipping if the temperature is not right. Temperature management involves air
streams and heat that can trigger ripening processes (Jedermann et. al 2013).
The storage process requires temperatures of about 12-14 C. Bananas are stored in containers for 18 hours for
temperature adjustment. Heat needs to be released otherwise the bananas will ripen too rapidly. Other banana quality
problems occur during shipping when refrigerated containers do not work properly, caused by insufficient cooling
conditions (Jedermann et. al 2014).
Export cards from importers are applied to banana boxes so they can be identified by the importers. It is a very
important process since it will prevent mistakes at ports, such as the importer receiving the wrong bananas.
Conclusions and Suggestions
There are several components to best practices in banana production processes, and each one has its own
characteristics. Banana exports must comply with standard guidelines. For example, the cutting process requires knife
sterilization to reduce the risk of bacteria.
The processes required between receiving the harvested bananas and storing them must be carefully followed, as each
step involves a critical process to keep quality high, and reduce the risk of bacteria or mold growth.
The best processing practices will delay ripening and create high-quality bananas that are delicious and do not ripen
too quickly.
Facility improvement programs are going to be important since some banana producers‟ facilities do not meet the
standards. Facility improvement will directly benefit exporters by increasing their market share, since their banana
exports would be of good quality.
Thailand‟s banana exporters need to create production improvement programs that will help exporters sustain a
competitive advantage in the banana export market.
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Bezanson, GS, Ells, TC, & Prange, RK.( 2014). Effect of composting on microbial
contamination and quality of fresh fruits and vegetables - A mini-review.
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evaluation and economic performance of banana cropping systems in Guadeloupe
(French West Indies). Agriculture, Ecosystem& Environment, 129( 4), 437-449.
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Jansasithorn, R, East, AR, Hewett, EW & Heyes, JA.( 2014).Skin cracking and postharvest
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Recently, the interest of academic and research institutions in sustainable agric-supply chain management (SASCM) has risen. This fact can be seen from the number of papers published as special issues. Agric-supply chain management is a substance deepening from conventional supply chain management which is discussing integration of economical, environmental, and social aspects to reach a goal of organization. The objective of this research was to describe the state of the art about this topic and future research issues. The number of papers analyzed were 111 articles published from 2003–2020. The articles were obtained from scientific provider such as Science direct, EBSCO, Cross-Reff, Researchgate, DOAJ, Academia.Edu, and Google Scholar. In this research, we cluster (SASCM) to several items such as supply chain management, sustainable supply chain management, and sustainable supply chain management for agricultural product. The content analysis was used to describe the state of the arts and novelty. The result of the study show that it is critical for the actors of agricultural business to apply sustainability concepts including economic, social, environmental, and institution on the systems of agricultural supply chain based on industry 4.0 approach to reach a sustainable business process. Synthesis and determination of main topics of research in the future is undertaken at the end. Keywords: agricultural product, management, sustainable supply chain
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There are 3 main types of compost: animal-based, plant-based and 'biosolids'. Most of the attention in the literature has been centred on animal-based compost because of concerns related to its potential to serve as a source of microorganisms pathogenic to humans. It will be the focus of this presentation. It is now widely-accepted that non-composted animal waste can have a negative effect on the microbial quality of vegetables and fruits, especially those subject to little or no processing prior to their ingestion. Although a major goal of proper composting is the elimination of pathogenic microbes all that may be achieved is a reduction, usually of 3-4 logs. Thus, even if composted material is applied, there is still a crop contamination risk. This is dependant on several factors, including the amount of crop contact with the soil, physical condition of the crop, soil type and moisture content. For example, root and tuber crops are generally the most exposed to incorporated compost, followed by low-growing leafy vegetables and similar crops. Injured leafy vegetables are more susceptible to compost-borne, human bacterial pathogens than are non-injured plants. Another less appreciated scientific observation is that, given the appropriate conditions, i.e., post-processing storage at 22 or 35°C, or slow compost cooling, significant re-growth of low concentration pathogens, e.g., Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes, can occur in properly-composted material. Furthermore, there are reports that properly-composted materials can serve as a milieu for the proliferation of bacterial pathogens introduced after the composting was completed. During horticultural production, re-introduction could occur via the application of contaminated irrigation water, the deposition of bird or animal fecal material, or as a result of the settling of air-borne materials. One special concern is the possibility of antibiotic resistance occurring in the microbial population of compost derived from the waste of animals exposed to antibiotics.
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Bananas are tropical fruits sensitive to chilling injury (CI). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of low temperatures on respiration, ethylene production, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) and malonyl-ACC (MACC) contents, ACC oxidase activity and chilling injury (CI) in bananas. Banana fruits from Canary Islands were stored at 4°C for 1, 3 and 5 days and then rewarmed at 20°C until ripening. Bananas subject to 4°C for 1 day and transferred at 20°C developed slight damage by the end of storage (CI index=0.3), showing dull yellow color on the peel. Neither physiological nor quality parameters were affected. Bananas subjected to 4°C for 3 days presented moderate damage by the end of storage (CI index=2.25). These bananas presented browning on the peel, increase in the production of CO2, stimulation of ethylene production, increase in ACC oxidase activity and decrease in ACC and MACC contents compared to undamaged bananas. Bananas subjected to 4°C for 5 days developed severe damage to the peel by the end of storage (CI index=3). Several chilling turns the peel brown to black and presented abnormal ripening.
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Bananas respond at the physical and physiological level to mechanical damage. Mechanical injuries cause alterations in color and flavor, tissue softening, faster ripening, increased weight loss, increased invasion of microorganisms, and higher enzyme activity in the affected area. The purpose of this study was to verify the physical and metabolic alterations in 'Prata Anã' bananas induced by mechanical stress at room temperature. The experiment was conducted in a completely randomized, split-plot in time design, consisting of one control and four mechanical injury types: cutting, abrasion, impact and compression, sampled over time. The percentage of accumulated and daily fresh weight loss, electrolyte leakage from the injured peel region, total soluble sugar and starch contents and enzyme activity of polyphenoloxidase and peroxidase were measured. The damage caused by cutting and abrasion resulted in the highest percentage of fresh weight loss. All types of mechanical damage increased electrolyte leakage during the evaluation period, in comparison with the control. The impact damage anticipated the ripening, besides affecting the conversion of starch into total soluble sugars in the pulp. By impact and abrasion injuries, the polyphenoloxidase and peroxidase activity in the peel was increased by up to 231% and 90%, and 618% and 956%, respectively, compared to the control.
‘Goldfinger’ bananas (Musa accuminata, FHIA-01) were harvested, held for 14-22 d at five temperatures and a constant relative humidity (RH) or at five RHs and a constant temperature and evaluated for quality attributes. The objectives of this work were to: (1) create quality curves for bananas stored at chilling and non-chilling temperatures; (2) create quality curves for bananas stored at a non-chilling temperatures and different RHs; (3) identify which sensory quality attribute limits the shelf life and marketability of bananas when stored at chilling and non-chilling temperatures or at different RHs; and (4) correlate subjective sensory attributes with quantitative quality measurements. Results from this study showed that temperature had a more significant impact on the quality of banana than RH. Bananas stored at temperatures higher than 10 °C were yellower and softer but had lower starch and higher soluble solids and total sugar content than those stored at lower temperatures. When stored at 2, 5 and 10 °C, bananas developed chilling injury (CI) and abnormal ripening when transferred to 20 °C. The most remarkable impact of RH on banana quality was on weight loss, which was significantly higher in fruit held below 80% RH than in fruit held in 87 or 92% RH. CI was the first sensory quality attribute to reach the limit of acceptability in fruit stored at 2, 5 and 10 °C, whereas color changes and softening limited the shelf life of bananas stored at 15 and 20 °C. Changes in color and/or softening were the two main sensory attributes that limited the shelf life of bananas stored at different RHs. Overall, for maximum quality and shelf life bananas should be stored at or above 15 °C and 92% RH. Finally, sensory attributes can be used to estimate peel color, pulp softening and sweetness, while SSC can be used as a reliable and simple method to estimate the total sugar content of bananas stored at different temperatures or different RHs.
Water loss affects quality and limits marketable life of fresh produce. Chillies and peppers are susceptible to water loss that occurs through the calyx, pedicel, and skin surface. Flux through the skin is influenced by cuticular cracking, a common physical defect for Jalapeño. A high incidence of cracking was be caused by harvest date, with those fruit developed early in the season having the highest incidence. Although cracks developed corky suberisation, fluorescence microscopy showed the central portion of the cracks was unsuberised. The water vapour permeance (mol s−1 m−2 Pa−1) of cracked Jalapeño was approximately three times higher than non-cracked fruit. However, the calyx and pedicel of Jalapeño were found to exhibit higher water vapour permeance than fruit skin for both cracked and non-cracked Jalapeño. After accounting for the surface area of each structure, the majority of water is lost via the fruit skin in cracked fruit, while water is equally lost from fruit skin and stem area (calyx and pedicel) in non-cracked fruit. A model was developed to predict Jalapeño shelf life (assuming that 5% water loss resulted in shrivel development) and used to conduct a sensitivity analysis on factors that influence time to shrivel development. Fruit weight and P′H2OP′H2O differences in the population had little effect on time to shrivel development. Cracking does reduce time to shrivel significantly but storage temperature and RH have such a big impact that water loss in Jalapeño remains best controlled through good cool chain management and packaging.
Quality problems occurring during or after sea transportation of bananas in refrigerated containers are mainly caused by insufficient cooling and non-optimal atmospheric conditions, but also by the heat generated by respiration activity. Tools to measure and evaluate these effects can largely help to reduce losses along the banana supply chain. The presented green life model provides a tool to predict the effect of deviating temperature, relative humidity, and CO2 and O2 gas concentrations on the storage stability of bananas. A second thermal model allows evaluation of the cooling efficiency, the effect of changes in packaging and stowage and the amount of respiration heat from the measured temperature curves. Spontaneous ripening causes higher respiration heat and CO2 production rate. The resulting risk for creation of hot spots increases in positions in which the respiration heat exceeds the available cooling capacity. In case studies on the transport of bananas from Costa Rica to Europe, we validated the models and showed how they can be applied to generate automated warning messages for containers with reduced banana green life or with temperature problems and also for remote monitoring of the ripening process inside the container.
Losses of product quality during the sea transport of bananas in containers are related to the emergence of hot spots. In order to analyze critical conditions, a spatial temperature profile was recorded ashore in a container loaded with banana pallets. The identification of a structured system model showed that it is possible to reduce the information on the measured temperature curves to a set of only two index values. These can be interpreted as factors for coupling to the air stream and for the amount of heat generated by biological processes per banana box. The width of gaps between pallets was identified as the major influence on the spatial temperature profile. Boxes from which the unwanted banana ripening heat cannot be channeled away by the cooling unit can be detected by the quotient of the index values.
Banana is the second most important agricultural commodity in Guadeloupe (French West Indies—FWI) and, to compensate the decline in international prices during the last 15 years, banana growers have intensified their production systems by increasing the use of technological inputs. Such intensification strategies, that require both material and investment increases, may impose economic as well as environmental risks, given the fragile island ecosystems. In order to assess the environmental performance of banana production in Guadeloupe, emergy synthesis methods were applied to six different types of banana cropping systems previously identified in the island. Additionally, aiming at improving managerial capacity and investment decision making, environmental performance results were contrasted with economic analysis for the six cropping systems. As a general outcome, these analyses showed that the better the environmental performance of the cropping system, the worse its economic performance. This result was corroborated by an increased contrast among cropping systems as related to their dependence on purchased inputs, although all cropping systems followed the same intensive and arguably wasteful agricultural model. Therefore, the analyses point out that sustainable banana production in Guadeloupe depends on a shift from the high fossil input model to a natural resources intensive one. In this sense, emergy flow analysis shows that innovation towards environmentally sound practices that would enhance nutrient cycling; integrate weeds, pests and diseases control; and improve the banana packing process might result in most positive impacts on overall sustainability. Economic analysis showed that the high labour costs contribute largely to the dependency of banana production on agricultural subsidies. However, reorienting the current European agricultural income policy to an environmental performance-based subvention might be a policy opportunity to achieve the present social goals while promoting sustainability in banana production. Furthermore, the EC regulation on quality standards for commercial bananas, by imposing strict aesthetic benchmarks, has a negative effect on the sustainability of banana production because substantial non-renewable and purchased emergy inflows into banana production systems aim to improve aesthetic standards over sound ecological management.
The U.S. fruit and vegetable industry is labor intensive, pays higher wages than are paid in many other countries, and increasingly operates in a global economy. U.S. fruit and vegetable farms rely on seasonal workers who are likely to be unauthorized immigrants; any future immigration reform could reduce the supply of labor or raise wages. Fruit and vegetable growers may respond to any potential wage increases by reducing the number of seasonal workers employed, adopting mechanized harvesters or other labor-saving technologies in the field, or reducing production.
Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked to health benefits but also to an increase in the number of outbreaks of foodborne illness. To determine the effectiveness of different sanitizing treatments for reducing bacterial pathogens on fresh produce, fresh cantaloupes and bell peppers were harvested and inoculated with suspensions of Salmonella Typhimurium and Escherichia coli O157:H7. The inoculated fruits were treated with water wash alone or were washed and then waxed or rinsed with 200 mg/liter hypochlorite, 10% Ca(OH)2, or 2% lactic acid solutions applied by dipping for 15 s or spraying for 15 s. Preliminary experiments with chlorine treatments indicated that spraying with a 200, 600, or 1,000 mg/liter hypochlorite solution reduced populations of both pathogens by 2.1 to 2.6 and 1.5 to 2.1 log CFU for Salmonella Typhimurium and E. coli O157:H7, respectively. In general, no differences were observed between chlorine solutions without pH adjustment (pH 9.2) and those with pH adjusted to 6.0. When different wash regimes were applied to inoculated cantaloupes or bell peppers, water wash alone produced significantly lower counts of both pathogens on bell peppers in comparison to untreated controls. However, this reduction was not observed on cantaloupes, indicating a possible surface effect. Application of 2% L-lactic acid by spray was the treatment that resulted in the lowest bacterial counts on both cantaloupes and bell peppers. This treatment did not produce any deleterious change in the sensorial characteristics of the products tested. None of the pathogens studied was able to grow during refrigerated storage (5 degrees C for cantaloupes and 10 degrees C for bell peppers), although numbers close to the detection limit of the counting method were found in randomly tested individual samples at days 14 and 28 of storage, indicating that these pathogens can survive for long periods on the produce surface. These results indicate that selected produce commodities could be sanitized at the packing facility. However, these interventions should not be applied as a replacement for but only as a complement to good hygiene practices.