Without packing and transporting vegetables in a proper way which will ensure the quality of the vegetables from the moment you harvest them until they arrive to the consumers, any business in the field would be from the start compromised. On the other side, market requirements, marketing strategies are more and more complex and demanding and this fact has a double effect: can stimulate/reduce selling and, implicitly, determine the growth/fall of the profits for the producers and sellers.
The modern package for capitalization of vegetables put to be sold must comply with some conditions:
- To protect the product on the shelf from humidity and other factors and in the stages of storage, manipulation and distribution;
- To draw attention, through design (shape, color, dimension, graphics etc.) to the product and, as much as possibly, in time, to transform itself into a brand ( satisfied buyers will recognize and search those products which they will identify after package);
- To inform completely and correctly, through labels, on the source, quality class, expiration date price etc;
- Wrappings be confectioned from materials that will not endanger the quality of the vegetables. The most utilized materials for packaging vegetables are: multilayer film, bags made from plastic material (primary packaging material for the transportation of vegetables), wooden boxes, bigger boxes, also made from wood (type P boxes), as primary packaging materials (for harvesting and transporting), with or without lid, for vegetables with hard pulp, boxes made from beech wood, without lid, for a short period of storage and transportation of perishable vegetables, boxes made from plastic material, wood pallets (bigger boxes, designed for the places were the vegetables are harvested and which can be stacked, saving space). Cardboard boxes represent another option for packing and transporting vegetables, but mostly as secondary packaging materials, utilized for a short period of time. They are very modern and practical, Prelog shuttles used for transporting vegetables are ideal for automatic washing, keep the vegetables fresh during transportation, as they can be folded after they usage.
- To be new, clean and chemically harmless;
- To maintain the characteristics of the packaged product;
- To ensure the stability through the manipulation process;
- To be light;
- Not to induce in error the buyers;
For packaging the fresh vegetables, one of the modern successful methods is the Cryovac system, a superior way of vacuum-packaging, which consists of using plastic bags, in which the vegetables are introduced (cucumbers, cauliflower, mushrooms etc.), vacuumed previously, through aspiration, and after, for just a second, are submerged into a tank filled with hot water (at 92-97 Celsius degrees), process which makes the foil to shrink and to permanently seal that product.
The transportation of the vegetables from the producer to the consumer, when it comes to large quantities and long distances is made by means of transport which, recently, have been equipped with devices (mini-computers) which register the temperature during transport, time, humidity, so that the causes of the spoiling of the vegetables can be removed.
Minimal conditions for transporting basic vegetables
Cucumbers, after harvesting, presorting and calibration, are prepackaged, mechanized, in shrinking Cryovac foil. The transportation is made, as usual, in wooden boxes, lined with parchment paper or corrugated cardboard, for protection, or in cardboard boxes (for prepackaged cucumbers). In both cases, everything is covered with a canopy with a window to ensure ventilation. The transportation, particularly on long distances, is made in terms of pre-cooling.
Tomatoes are kept temporary in cold storages, in which the temperature is controlled and adapted according to their maturity phases. For delivering, they are packaged based on quality classes.
Long bell peppers and peppers are stored in stacks as the tomatoes and the transportation is made by assuring pre-cooling and ventilation.
Peas is transported in tanks with cold water (only on short distances), on long distances in refrigerated containers and the peas pods are transported in pre-cooling with liquid ice conditions.
The salad and the spinach must be transported directly from the place of the harvest to the selling stores, ensuring pre-cooling and refrigeration. It is packaged in performed plastic bags, put in cardboard boxes or simply boxes. It is stored in stacks, but not more than two weeks.
Bulb vegetables (garlic, onion, leek), after harvesting, in general, are left in the sun for four-five days, to dry, after which the transportation is made in bulks, in bags, or wooden boxes or pallet boxes. Until the moment of the sale, they can be kept in spaces with natural ventilation and for longer periods in spaces with mechanical ventilation (to eliminate the excess of humidity) and in cold storages.
Root vegetables (carrots, parsnip, root parsley, celery, beet, radishes etc.) are transported only through covered means of transport and stored in pallet boxes, for maximum two days after harvesting, without being washed, taking into consideration that they are easily perishable, in spaces without light. For long periods they are stored in silos. The washing should be made only before packaging for sale, with special machines with a ventilator. Pre-packaging is made in polyethylene bags or in textile bags.
Potatoes are transported in bulks, in pallet boxes or in bags and they are kept in spaces with mechanic ventilation, in cold storages or in silos.
In a more and more increasingly fierce market economy, those who have businesses in harvesting and selling vegetables must be more preoccupied not only to obtain a quality production (which is the main objective), but also about reaching performance in packaging and transportation operation of the vegetables, because, often, to reduce costs, the damages can be more significant from the negligence of these two aspects.
A study from 2011 shows that the principal difficulties and obstacles on the fresh fruits and vegetable market are caused by:
- The lack of specialized transportation and expertise;
- The strategy of packaging is less developed;
- The difficulty of storing vegetables, on a long term, in proper conditions;
- Lack of calibration of the products, taking into consideration that most are sold in precarious conditions (in improvised spaces, without any preoccupation for the rules of marketing);
- The small number of greenhouses and solariums which can ensure an internal continuing production