CEO Jorge Bretó introduces Plantseal® and Plantseal® Shine-free, the latest additions to the company’s Biocare range of postharvest treatments certified for organic production.
1. When did research on Plantseal® and Plantseal® Shine-free begin and what were the main reasons?
Traditionally, coatings were not used in organic citrus and apples since there were no certified coatings for organic production. Consequently, these organic fruits aged faster than their conventional equivalents. In the case of conventional citrus, all fruit is marketed with conventional coatings, more colloquially called waxes. These are edible coatings approved by the European Union, but they do not comply with EU regulations regarding inputs for organic production. Given the development and growth of the organic sector, we decided to focus on this area. Our R&D worked hard to develop the two vegetable coatings Plantseal® and Plantseal® Shine-free, which in a number of ways have turned out to be the best Citrosol coatings yet. We’re currently in the process of certifying the coatings as vegan waxes.
2. What advantages do these two coatings offer?
The ageing of the fruits is, to a large extent, a consequence of water loss, manifested as weight loss. Our coatings give the fruit a second skin, which reduces water loss and thus extends the shelf-life. Plantseal® is perhaps the coating that reduces weight loss the most on the market. Plantseal® Shine-free also exerts more control than most standard waxes.
They are both also very effective in controlling chilling injury stains and pitting that occur during the refrigerated transportation of citrus between continents. And finally, both waxes are fully compatible with any fungicidal active material, be it any of our Biocare treatments, also certified for organic production, or with any conventional treatment. In the case of citrus, fruit rot is the main cause of postharvest losses both upon arrival at depots and on supermarket shelves. Consequently, this compatibility has great relevance, and of course, as Plantseal® and Plantseal® Shine-free are made from vegetable waxes we have ensured that they do not stimulate the development of fungal pathogens that cause citrus rot.
3. Why did you decide to develop a shine-free coating alongside the regular one?
I don’t know about other countries, but in Spain we have an expression: “You don’t just have to be honest, you have to appear so.” This is also true with citrus, especially in the case of lemons. Sliced lemons are used in drinks, and consumers associate the shine of standard waxes with the presence of unnatural substances that they mistakenly think might be harmful. With Plantseal® Shine-free we solve this perception problem because we managed to form an imperceptible fi lm on the fruit. It means we can extend the life of the lemon, for example, we delay the blackening of the blossom end, which can be a problem with some varieties.
4. Does the fact that these are vegetable-based coatings mean the fruit requires a higher drying temperature?
While other recently launched coatings advertised as vegetable based need higher temperatures and drying times – requiring operators to adapt their processing and manufacturing machinery – Plantseal® and Plantseal® Shine-free do not, thus contributing to sustainable development and helping growers to reduce their carbon footprint.
5. Can you explain a bit about how these vegetable coatings are made?
We call them plant coatings because the active ingredient in both coatings is extracted from plants. We incorporate the plant extract directly into the final product, without altering it chemically. There are other coatings available that are usually marketed as plant-based coatings, in which after obtaining the plant extracts it is necessary to modify them chemically. These modifications are carried out through chemical reactions that include the use of heavy metals. Apparently these chemical modifications are needed to form a film on the fruit. The manufacturing process of Plantseal® and Plantseal® Shine-free is more physical than chemical: we do not need to make these modifications since our active ingredient is probably the best vegetable wax that nature has created to reduce water loss and slow respiration. We have tried to imitate nature and it seems that we have been successful because Plantseal® and Plantseal® Shine-free substantially increase the shelf-life of the fruit
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