Background Information

In the past, the Royal Project Foundation had frequently experienced oversupply of fresh shiitake mushroom. Due to its short shelf-life, of just 2-3 days,this mushroom cannot survive the logistics condition from highland farm to market in Bangkok. Consequently, the market expansion of such high value fresh mushroom is hindered. With the proper use of science and technology, the shelf-life issue, which is in line with the 6 pressing issues in ‘modern agriculture’, can be solved. It was required by the Foundation that the shelf-life of the mushroom must be extended to at least 7 days under current logistic condition for retail market viability.

The success of this research and the innovative implementation of technology will certainly boost the
competitive advantage of the products and allow consumers to enjoy the freshness of high-quality shiitake mushroom delivered right from the highland mountains.

Moreover, the quality of life, well-being and happiness level of those hill- tribe mushroom growers will positively be improved, which is in harmony with the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan.

Objectives

Development of porous polypropylene (PP) film which serves as main breathable area of packaging for fresh produce with high respiration rate such as mushroom.

Research Approach

The Equilibrium Modified Atmosphere (EMA) film via the porous PP breathable window called ActivePAK Ultra was used as the retail packaging of fresh shiitake mushroom. Both the research and business development teams had worked closely with the Royal Project Foundation in every stage of development ranging from packing, market testing, data collection and analysis and problem-solving until the new ActivePAK Ultra is satisfactorily established in the Foundation’s present supply chain. ActivePAK Ultra has oxygen transmission rate of 50,000 cc/m2. day which matches the respiration rate of the mushroom. 

ActivePAK Ultra preserves the quality of fresh shiitake mushroom up to 9 days, in comparison with the usual 3 days in plastic clamshell with punched holes. Furthermore, shiitake mushroom packed in ActivePAK Ultra still maintains good quality under the temperature fluctuation during packing and transportation from the northern mountain tops to Bangkok and to consumer in the grocery shelves. The new packaging expands retail channels for the Foundation which were limited to only within Chiang Mai province in the past.

Key technologies

  1. The study of physiology and specific requirement of mushroom, e.g. respiration rates
  2. Development of special gas permeability control films that suitable to use with fresh produce (mushroom). The film creates modified atmosphere within the package that will lower the respiration rate which helps maintaining, the product freshness and quality.

Key success factors

1. The research problem is well-stated and focused.
2. The research team has been working closely with the Foundation and the film manufacturer in every stage of development starting from data collection and analysis and problem solving prior to and after product application. This enables the research team to create an innovative product which meets the demand of the Foundation.

Current status

The research team and the business development team had tested ActivePAK Ultra prototype in packaging manufacturing process at the film manufacturing facility. Market test in an “actual” setting in which ActivePAK Ultra was being used for shiitake mushroom was conducted together with the Foundation. Data collection was carried out from the packing facility at the Royal Project Development Center in Pa Miang to the distribution center of the Foundation in Mae Hae, Chiang Mai province until
the produce was transported to the distribution center at Kasetsart University, Bangkhaen, Bangkok and, finally, to the shelves at the Royal Project Foundation stores across Bangkok.

The research team and the business development team create a user guide and present product demonstrations at the packing facility of the Royal Project Foundation. Public relations activities were carried out through different media channels such as Chao Nee Tee Mochit TV program and a trade show booth at Thaifex (International Trade Exhibition for Food & Beverages, Food Technology and Retail Franchise in Asia).

Outlook

The application of this work will be extended in form of retail package to cover other types of fresh produce, e.g. an individual fruit of mango, rambutan, asparagus, chili, mixed herbs and other types of mushroom. ActivePAK Ultra will be further developed to include application for bulk package of fresh produce such as mangoes and limes.

Development of porous polypropylene (PP) film which

serves as main breathable area of packaging for fresh
produce with high respiration rate such as mushroom.
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