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Avocados Land Near-Perfect

Avocados shipped to the United States in new packs during December arrived in good condition, as growers had hoped.

They were landed at Long Beach, southern California, after an 18-day voyage from Tauranga and 28 days after being picked. The fruit was the first exported in trial packs designed to keep them in the best condition.

Technology New Zealand invested in the packaging project to help the Avocado Industry Council boost growers' export potential. Council chief executive Jonathan Cutting says kiwifruit packaging had been used previously, which had worked well because most exports went to Australia.

"But now we're shipping to the United States, kiwifruit packaging is not suitable. We had to come up with an alternative."

The single-layer packs on the trial shipment had proved suitable, he says. But the council and its technical advisers at Massey University were going over data to see why some double-layer packs at the bottom of a pallet had collapsed.

At stake in the project are exports that growers hope will reach $100 million by 2005.

Kiwifruit holds its condition and quality well for long times, unlike avocados. So the challenge was to design something that delayed ripeness until the right moment.

The new packaging was designed to allow air to flow between cartons, giving a more even temperature and a more even quality of fruit.

Dr Cutting says that another shipment, to Australia, will be sent during February in single-layer packs.

-ends-

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