Identifying temperature breaks in the export cold chain of navel oranges : a Western Cape case
Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.
ENGLISH SUMMARY : The South African citrus industry contributes significantly to the exportation of fresh fruit annually. South Africa is among the top-ten citrus producing countries in the world and it is the second largest exporter after Spain. There is growing concern in the citrus industry that there are significant breaks in the temperature profiles of the export cold chain of navel oranges to the United States of America. In the citrus export cold chain, one of the most critical functions is to ensure that the quality and conditions of fruit are optimised. Each stage in the cold chain must be conducted reliably and efficiently to reduce the risk of economic losses. The critical factors of the export cold chain that the study explored are temperature protocols and fruit quality as high risks are attached to inefficiencies due to temperature breaks. The United States of America is a steri-market, meaning that navel oranges have to be exported at sub-zero temperatures for phytosanitary purposes. This procedure is known as cold sterilisation treatment. Cold sterilisation treatment commences from the time the fruit consignment has been loaded onto conventional vessels and compartments closed, with all three major temperature probes reading -0.6°C until the port of destination. Steri-market protocols require that fruit be shipped at -0.6°C for a period of 22 days. Steri-markets make use of cold sterilisation treatment to ensure that pests and diseases are not imported along with fruits that arrive at their ports. Observations were made at fruit farms, pack houses, cold stores and the Port of Cape Town. The observations made clearly depicted that export cold chain protocols are to a large extent followed. To analyse the pulp and ambient temperature of navel oranges, temperature trials were conducted and data received from export organisations was analysed. The data was analysed from the point of harvest (orchard) until the port of destination. From the analysis conducted, it was clear that export cold chain processes were followed, thus, reducing the risks of temperature breaks, which in the cold sterilisation export industry translate to significant income losses due to the rejection of an exported consignment of fruit. The study was undertaken by Stellenbosch University in conjunction with Company X to help redress the issue of breaks in the export cold chain and improve their fruit quality. The study proved to be a step in the right direction, but it should be noted that further research still needs to be conducted on the export cold chain of fruit under cold sterilisation treatment, as the low temperatures are known to be detrimental to fruit quality, as they tend to cause chilling injury.
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