Investigating quality issues after the introduction of humidifiers into table grape pack houses : a Northern Cape case
Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.
ENGLISH SUMMARY : Introduction & Background to study: South Africa is the third largest producer of table grapes in the southern hemisphere following Chile and Peru respectively. Deciduous fruits and vegetables are South Africa’s second most exported horticultural products. Table grapes form part of this export category. Post-harvest physiological disorders such as brown stems, decay and other quality defects have a negative impact on the quality of table grapes exported from South Africa. Within the agricultural sector of South Africa, the table grape industry has drawn major attention over the past few years as the demand for table grapes has increased considerably. However, Company Y has identified many quality issues as a cause for concern. Purpose & problem definition / main research question Objectives: While conducting investigations along the supply chain, other industry market players have found that the implementation of a certain type of humidifier into pack houses decreases the number of quality issues faced by table grapes. Company Y implemented this humidifier system into one of their pack houses and did not install this system in the other six pack houses that data was collected from. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an investment in this humidifier system is justified, if proven to decrease quality problems for the table grapes distributed. Methodology (scope declared): Relative humidity, ambient temperature and quality control data was collected over a period of three table grape seasons, namely November 2015 to February 2018. The data collected from Farm 1’s pack house, which had the humidifier system installed, was compared to six other pack houses and against the data from Farm 1’s pack house prior to the system being installed. Quality control messages were collected at the port of destination, which were linked back to the pack location (farms) where the grapes were harvested. Main findings: The results from the statistical data analysis revealed that there is a significant relationship between the pack house with the humidifier system installed and the ambient temperature, causing fewer quality control messages to be detected. Other analysis and results supported the fact that fewer quality control messages were identified at Farm 1’s pack house after the installation of the humidifier than any of the other pack houses. The results show that Farm 1 experienced the least number of quality problems. Results also revealed that higher levels of humidity and lower temperatures were maintained at Farm 1’s pack house after the installation of the humidifier than any of the other six pack houses. Main Conclusions: This research finds that the installation of the humidifier system provides positive results whereby fewer quality issues are experienced and recommends investing in the system across multiple table grape pack houses. The installation of the humidification system can be implemented as a standalone source of improvement for the quality of table grapes harvested. Furthermore, this study recommends tighter control of the cold chain within the pack house, which could reveal stronger results in future studies.
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