Postharvest losses and changes in quality of vegetables from retail to consumer : a case study of tomato, cabbage and carrot

Munhuewyi, Karen (2012-12)

Thesis (MScFoodSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Postharvest losses of three different vegetables (tomato - a fruit, cabbage - a leaf and carrot - a root vegetable) were investigated directly after retail purchasing and during consumer simulated storage. To conduct this study, three retail outlets (2 supermarkets and an outdoor market) were selected in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Retail prices of each vegetable were recorded from each respective Outlet. Surrounding environmental conditions (air temperature and relative humidity) at retail and during simulated consumer storage were also monitored. Vegetable postharvest losses were determined by quantifying the incidence of physical loss and changes in physico-chemical properties (colour, firmness, weight loss, ascorbic acid, total pigments, total soluble solids, titratable acid and proximate composition) over time. The percentage losses observed were then used to estimate the associated economic and environmental resource impacts of postharvest vegetable losses at the national level. Vegetable losses immediately at retail purchase were 14.56%, 21.21% and 17.93% for tomato, cabbage and carrot, respectively. The estimated combined volume lost for all three vegetables at national level was approximately 26 460 t valued at R33.70 million. Overall economic loss was highest for tomatoes and least for carrots. The magnitude of the losses observed differed for all the outlets. Vegetable losses were mostly high for the produce from the outdoor market compared to the supermarkets during storage. Throughout the whole trial, mechanical damage accounted for at least 50 to 70% of the losses while the remainder was due to decay and insect damage. Post retail storage temperature; ambient (22–25ºC) vs. cold store (0ºC and 10–12 ºC) had a significant (P<0.05) effect on the vegetable losses. This was for both quantitative and qualitative attributes. Losses for tomato and cabbage were 18.52% and 16.67% after 3 days while carrot losses were 11.83% at 7 days after having been kept in the recommended respective cold storage temperatures. Ambient storage losses were also lowest for carrots at 22.53% after 7 days, while tomato and cabbage losses stood at 24.27% and 34.34% after 3 days of storage, respectively. Vegetable firmness generally decreased while weight loss increased with storage time. Colour development increased favourably at ambient temperature for the tomato whereas for cabbage and carrot better colour retention was observed in the cold storage. Chemical changes for all three vegetables were also most pronounced at ambient temperature with significant (P<0.05) losses observed for ascorbic acid. Changes were also noted for total pigments, soluble solids and acidity, however there was no common significant trend for all three vegetables. Estimates of carbon dioxide emissions reveal that postharvest vegetable losses contribute to unwarranted emissions of at least 1.37 – 13.77 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq.) at the national level. The losses are also accompanied by wastage of approximately 3.74 – 4.35 million m3 of fresh water as well as 14.79 – 111.63 million MJ of fossil energy. The vegetable with highest production volumes and retail price was the tomato and accordingly, its postharvest losses had the severest environmental and resource impacts.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die ná-oes-verliese van drie verskillende groentes (tamatie – 'n vrug, kool – 'n blaar, en wortel – 'n wortelgroente) is direk ná kleinhandelaankope en tydens gesimuleerde verbruikersberging ondersoek. Ten einde hierdie studie uit te voer, is drie kleinhandelsafsetpunte (twee supermarkte en 'n opelugmark) in Stellenbosch, Suid-Afrika gekies. Die kleinhandelpryse van elke groente van die drie onderskeie afsetpunte is opgeteken. Omliggende omgewingstoestande (lugtemperatuur en relatiewe humiditeit) tydens verkope en gesimuleerde verbruikersberging is ook gemonitor. Die ná-oes-verliese van die groentes is bepaal deur die voorkoms van fisiese verlies en veranderings in fisio-chemiese eienskappe (kleur, fermheid, gewigsverlies, askorbiensuur, totale pigmente, totale oplosbare suikers, titreerbare suur en algemene samestelling) met verloop van tyd te versyfer. Die waargenome persentasie verliese is gebruik om die geassosieerde ekonomiese en omgewingshulpbron-impak van ná-oes-groenteverliese op nasionale vlak te beraam. Groenteverliese met kleinhandelaankope was onderskeidelik 14.56%, 21.21% en 17.93% vir tamaties, kool en wortels. Die beraamde saamgestelde volume verlies vir al drie groentes op nasionale vlak was ongeveer 26 460 t, met 'n waarde van R33.70 miljoen. Die algehele ekonomiese verlies was die hoogste vir tamaties en die laagste vir wortels. Die omvang van die waargenome verliese het vir al die afsetpunte verskil. Groenteverliese tydens berging was hoofsaaklik hoog vir die produkte van die opelugmark in vergelyking met dié van die supermark. Tydens die algehele proefneming was meganiese skade verantwoordelik vir ten minste 50 tot 70% van die verliese, terwyl die res aan verrotting en insekskade toegeskryf kan word. Bergingstemperatuur ná kleinhandelaankope: omgewingstemperatuur (22 – 25 ºC) vs. koue berging (0 ºC en 10–12 ºC) het 'n beduidende (P < 0.05) uitwerking op groenteverlies gehad. Dit geld vir sowel kwantitatiewe as kwalitatiewe attribute. Verliese vir tamaties en kool was onderskeidelik 18.52% en 16.67% ná drie dae, terwyl dit vir wortels 11.83% teen sewe dae was nadat dit teen die aanbevole onderskeie koue bergingstemperature geberg is. Bergingsverliese in omgewingstemperatuur was ook die laagste vir wortels teen 22.53% ná sewe dae, terwyl die verlies van tamaties en kool onderskeidelik 24.27% en 34.34% was ná drie dae se berging. Die fermheid van die groente het oor die algemeen met die duur van berging verminder, terwyl gewigsverlies toegeneem het. Kleurontwikkeling het gunstig teen omgewingstemperatuur toegeneem vir die tamaties, terwyl die kleur van kool en wortels beter in die koue berging behou is. Chemiese veranderinge vir al drie groente was die sterkste teen omgewingstemperatuur, met beduidende (P < 0.05) verliese van askorbiensuur wat waargeneem is. Veranderinge is ook gemerk rakende totale pigmente, oplosbare vaste stowwe en suurgehalte. Daar was egter geen algemene beduidende neiging vir al drie groentes nie. Beramings van koolstofvrystellings toon dat ná-oes-groenteverlies tot ongeoorloofde vrystelling van ten minste 1.37 tot 13.77 miljoen ton koolstofekwivalente (CO2eq.) op nasionale vlak bydra. Die verliese gaan ook gepaard met verbruik van ongeveer 3.74 tot 4.35 miljoen m3 vars water asook 14.79 tot 111.63 miljoen MJ fossielbrandstof. Die groente met die hoogste produksievolume en kleinhandelprys was die tamaties, en gevolglik het tamaties se ná-oes-verliese die ernstigste impak op die omgewing en op hulpbronne.

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