Berry Gardens to use shelf life technology

Berry and stone fruit marketing organisation Berry Gardens has signed an arrangement with technology company Anacail to exclusively use their ozone technology for berries, cherries and plums in the UK.

Berry Gardens CEO, Jacqui Green, said, “This technology is game changing in our industry, using ozone, a proven sterilant, to reduce the presence of yeasts and moulds. This means extended shelf life, reduced waste and a better product for our consumer. We are thrilled to be working with Anacail and our businesses are closely aligned in our ambition to ensure the best berries, cherries and plums are available to our consumers across the breadth of the retail sector.”

Anacail, which is a venture capital backed SME spin-out from the Astrophysics Department at Glasgow University, specialises in creating and handling ozone in revolutionary, safe and flexible ways. Its key technology allows the generation of ozone (an activated form of oxygen), inside sealed packages, without damaging or opening the package.

Anacail’s CEO, Ian Muirhead commented, “We are delighted to sign this collaboration with Berry Gardens, a major player and leading innovator in their sector.  It is a major milestone for Anacail in bringing our innovative technology to market.”

Photo Caption: Anacail’s F-LC2-250 in-pack ozone machine.

Photo Credit: Anacail Ltd

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Southern England Farms trials English workers

Cornish-based vegetable grower Southern England Farms has taken part in the BBC programme Inside Out South West, highlighting the migrant labour crisis by employing a group of young people from Plymouth to pick cabbages.

After four hours the farm’s Eastern European staff had picked nearly 10 times as many cabbages as the young British workers. Jennifer Brunt, 23, who works in sales, said, “This is hard, my hands are too small and they’re cold and my nose is running. My fingers are already frozen and we haven’t even been here for an hour.”

Another woman, 22-year-old Cambridge-graduate Hottie Burrows, had to sit in a tractor to warm her hands up. “Honestly, I was in so much pain but I don’t quit,” she said. “Like last year I ran two marathons if I can do that why can’t I pick cabbages?”

The farm normally employs 500 pickers. Owner Greville Richards commented, “It’s rewarding if you want to get on. Some of the teams that we have here earn very good money. Now we are finding that we are Bulgarian and Romanian, purely because the Lithuanians and the Polish don’t want to come here because there’s nothing in it for them now with the way the exchange rate is.”

One British worker said they would “never” consider the job as a career.

Photo Caption: The farm normally employs 500 pickers.

Photo Credit: Southern England Farms

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Sales double at juice firm

Juice producer The Juice Executive says that sales have doubled in the last year with turnover increasing by £600,000 to just over £1 million.

The Kent-based company, which was started by 23 year old Alex Auger in her garage in 2014, produces more than 40 different organic juices and sells online and through independent retailers.

“I originally started off in my garage and was dropping samples off to some of the big financial services companies,” explained Alex. “It kind of snowballed since then and the time was right to put in some better practices that will allow me to concentrate on growth, whilst having a structured approach to securing and developing the best talent.

“We’ve just done the figures and we hit £1.01m in 2017, a £600,000 increase on the previous year. This has come from more retailers looking for us to contract manufacture their juices and a desire from independent coffee houses keen to co-brand their own great tasting range of juices. The plan is to grow by another 30 per cent in the coming year.”

Photo Caption: Alex Auger of The Juice Executive.

Photo Credit: YouTube

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New ‘Tomato Expression Atlas’ dives deep into the fruit’s flesh

Researchers have published a ‘spatiotemporal map’ of gene expression for all tissues and all the developmental stages of tomato fruit which highlights how a fruit changes from inside to out as it ripens.

How a fruit ripens has long been an important question for breeders, and with the global tomato market worth around $55 billion a year, tomato is an important subject for understanding the genetic basis of commercially important traits, such as size, colour, flavour, and nutritional content.

“We needed unbiased sampling that was as representative as possible. For that purpose, we harvested in total more than 400 samples from more than 60 randomly selected individual tomato plants,” explained postdoctoral scientist Philippe Nicolas who was involved in the multi-partner project.

The researchers carefully dissected the tomato tissues by hand and with lasers to isolate and sequence RNA from individual tissues and even cells. The sequence data was then compiled, parsed, and organized into the Tomato Expression Atlas (TEA), where it can be analyzed to investigate the various biological processes important for fruit development.

“The TEA database offers an unprecedented level of interactivity and novel ways to visualize complex, multidimensional expression data,” added scientist Lukas Mueller, referring to the TEA’s graphic interface that allows users to visualize gene expression through heat maps and fruit pictographs.

Photo Caption: Tomato fruit at the different developmental stages used for this study.

Photo Credit: The Tomato Expression Atlas

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Unique heat exchanger increases resource efficiency by cutting process waste

With resource efficiency topping the agenda at this year’s Anuga FoodTec show, HRS Heat Exchangers is shining a light on a forgotten area of wastage in food processing – food lost during cleaning cycles and production changes. The HRS R Series of scraped surface heat exchangers removes food residue, meaning that food factories can now recover valuable product from the exchanger when heating, cooling or pasteurising viscous/sticky foods.

HRS International Sales & Marketing Director Matt Hale explains: “Normally, when processing viscous food products such as honey, syrups and purées, a certain amount will adhere to surfaces, such as the inside of pipe work, or become left in equipment after processing. The value of these lost products soon adds up. For example, this issue is estimated to account for 3% of product losses in the US dairy industry1.”

Globally some 5% of food loses occur during processing, although this varies according to region. In European countries the average figure is around 5% but this rises to 9% in North America2. To put this into context, that’s 4.1 million tonnes of food being lost during processing each year in the UK alone3. The sectors with the highest waste levels are dairy, animal and meat processing, fruit and vegetable processing and the manufacture of oils and fats4.

Traditionally flushing or so-called ‘pigging systems’ have been used to push product through key parts of the production system, like heat exchangers. However, both add complexity to the system and can result in high levels of product wastage. However, running a suitable scraped-surface heat exchanger, such as the HRS R Series, in reverse, enables the recovery of material without the need for such additional equipment.

The HRS R Series scraped surface heat exchanger is capable of removing much of the product before the cleaning or change-over cycle commences. This is made possible thanks to a scraper bar within each inner tube which enhances product flow; prevents fouling during operation and minimises the pressure drop. The scraper bar features a helical screw which rotates at high speed. When configured correctly, this screw can be run in reverse, removing product from the heat exchanger tubes without damaging it or changing its characteristics. The R-Series can be configured for both horizontal and vertical operation, so that gravity can also be used to help recover product from the tubes. Each unit can be supplied with one, three or six tubes and multiple units can be combined for larger installations.

“The R Series is particularly suitable for high value viscous products such as honey, treacle, custards and creams, where lost product can be expensive,” adds Matt. “The R Series can be emptied of the majority of the product without the need for any additional pumps or pressure systems, reducing both capital- and running-costs.”

Learn about the benefits of the HRS R Series on Stand D069 in Hall 10.2.

Originally posted at PandCT.com on 5 February 2018.

Yorkshire grower launches vodka business

A Yorkshire grower has already won a prestigious award for his new potato vodka before any of the spirit has gone on sale to the public.

David Rawlings of Priory Farm, Syningthwaite, near Boston Spa, won two gold awards at last autumn’s Global Spirit Masters competition where one judge described the product as “pure, fruity and floral.”

David is using just one acre of his 60 acres of potatoes for the enterprise, with most of his crop still being sold for chipping with McCain’s and McDonald’s. He says he was inspired by the success of Chase Vodka which was developed in Hereford around three years ago.

“We’re hoping to make vodka the new gin,” he told The Yorkshire post. “It’s the original moonshine that is talked about in American films and we feel the work we have all put into our potato vodka makes it stand out from the rest. We’re also looking at experimenting with other flavours such as forced rhubarb.

“It only takes ten days to produce a bottle of vodka having started with boiling and mashing potatoes to turn them to starch and from there into sugar fermentation with the resultant turning into alcohol. The fermentation takes the greatest time and is achieved in a week. We’re not in full production yet, but we will be shortly as our Priory Vodka goes on general sale to selected farm shop outlets.”

Photo Credit: Priory Vodka

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Plants increase flower production within a day of soil nutrient application

The molecular mechanisms which enable plants to quickly adapt their rate of flower production in response to changing nutrient levels in soil have been revealed by researchers at the Sainsbury Laboratory.

A team of plant scientists has revealed that that increased soil nutrients in the form of nitrate lead to a response in stem cells in the shoots in less than 24 hours, both at the cellular and whole plant level.

First author of the paper, Dr Benoit Landrein said that it was already well established that the availability of nitrate can affect various aspects of plant development, and that while it was known that cytokinins were involved their exact role in mediating the response of the meristem to mineral nutrients had not been described before.

“Within one day of the root cells detecting additional nitrate, the cytokinin hormone precursors had travelled through the plant and converted to active hormones at the shoot meristem, which started influencing the shoot’s growth,” he explained. “The speed of this process was very surprising – the roots had not only responded to the change in environment themselves, they had rapidly communicated this information from the roots to the stem cells at the very top of the plant. We observed shoot meristem cells were starting to respond within 24 hours of the application of nitrate.

“This research provides us with improved insight into how mineral nutrients influence plant architecture and could be used to better understand plant response to environmental inputs and to develop cultivars with increased yield.”

Photo Caption: The researchers say plant meristems responds rapidly to soil nitrate.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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New PCN calculator unveiled

Researchers working on a project supported by AHDB Potatoes hope they will be able to improve the accuracy of a calculator on the AHDB website for the Globodera pallida species of potato cyst nematode.

The current PCN pallida calculator replaces an earlier CD-based version, and is designed to be updated with new information as it becomes available. Based on feedback, AHDB claims the web version is more user friendly, allowing for greater flexibility to move around the various input tabs and so demonstrate ‘what if’ scenarios.

Senior Research Assistant Bill Watts at Harper Adams University is hoping that the 20 month project will provide new data sets to help the calculator keep up with the latest findings on PCN biology, shifting varietal trends and new management practices.

“The varieties under investigation include Estima, Lady Rosetta, Marfona, Maris Piper, Markies, Melody, Nectar, Pentland Dell, Royal and Taurus,” he said. “They represent the ten most widely grown varieties in the UK today and are compared to two control varieties; Maris Peer which is intolerant to PCN, and Cara which is tolerant of PCN. Much emphasis has been placed on investigating resistant varieties; however, information on varietal tolerance to PCN is also important to potato growers.”

The next set of tolerance experiments will be carried out this spring, although AHDB stress that the model, “Is not a decision support system as it does not offer advice on what you should do. Instead it is an educational tool, or a decision justifier.”

Photo Caption: PCN cysts on infected potato roots.

Photo Credit: USDA

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Light-splitting film could increase yields

Engineers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a scalable, cost-effective greenhouse material that splits sunlight into photosynthetically efficient light and repurposes inefficient infrared light to aid in water purification.

According to the University, under normal conditions, plants only use around 50 percent of incoming sunlight for photosynthesis while the remaining half goes unused.

“The new CU Boulder technology will take the form of a semi-translucent film that splits incoming light and converts the rays from less-desired green wavelengths into more desirable red wavelengths, thus increasing the amount of photosynthetically efficient light for the plant with no additional electricity consumption,” said Xiaobo Yin, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at CU Boulder. The thin engineered material can be applied directly to the surface of greenhouse panels.

The technology also makes use of the photosynthetically ineffective light by redirecting it to aid in solar-driven water purification. “The near-infrared wavelengths can help clean brackish wastewater, allowing it to be recirculated in an advanced humidification-dehumidification interface and further reducing the greenhouse’s energy footprint,” said Yang.

Photo Caption: Professor Ronggui Yang (left) and Assistant Professor Xiaobo Yin.

Photo Credit: Glenn J. Asakawa / University of Colorado Boulder

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New EU guidance on potato tuber pest

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Plant Health has categorised the Guatemalan potato tuber moth (Tecia solanivora (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)) as a Union quarantine pest for the EU.

  1. solanivora, which feeds exclusively on Solanum tuberosum, was first described in Costa Rica in 1973 and has spread through Central and northern South America via the trade in seed potatoes. It has also spread to Mexico, the Canary Islands and mainland Spain where it is under official control in Galicia and Asturias.
  2. solanivora is currently regulated by Council Directive 2000/29/EC, listed in Annex II/AI as Scrobipalpopsis solanivora. Larvae feed and develop within potato tubers; infested tubers therefore provide a pathway for pest introduction and spread, as does the soil accompanying potato tubers if it is infested with eggs or pupae.

Defra has published a fact sheet on the Guatemalan potato tuber moth, but EFSA points out that there are uncertainties over the effectiveness of preventing illegal imports via passenger baggage and the magnitude of potential impacts in the cool EU climate.

Photo Credit: Cornell University

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