Thinking out of the box to benefit pomegranate industry

Pomegranates

Sometimes you must think outside the box to solve a problem. This is exactly what Dr Matia Mukama from the Postharvest Technology Research Laboratory at Stellenbosch University (SU) did when he designed new multi-layer ventilated cartons that could soon help increase pomegranate export volumes per unit container, reduce packaging material needs, lower energy costs for cooling pomegranates and keep them fresher for longer.

As part of his doctorate in Food Science, Mukama came up with the new design to help improve the overall performance of ventilated packaging in the pomegranate industry. Globally, this is the first time that a multi-layer ventilated carton has been designed for the handling and export marketing of pomegranates.

Mukama, who hails from Uganda, received his PhD at SU on 12 December 2019. In addition to this achievement, he finished second at the 2019 South African FameLab science communication and public speaking competition held in Durban in May this year.

His research forms part of the South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology’s programme on “Next Generation Ventilated Packaging of the Future” led by Prof Umezuruike Linus Opara, the incumbent of the mentioned Chair. Prof Opara and his colleague, Dr Alemayehu Ambaw Tsige, supervised Mukama’s doctoral study.

Mukama used computer-based techniques to redesign the vent holes of pomegranate fruit cartons to improve airflow and cooling performance in stacks; and to design new ventilated corrugated paperboard cartons that hold pomegranates in multilayers to improve cargo density, space and material utilisation. The best performing virtual prototypes were then physically manufactured and experimentally evaluated to meet industry standards.The full article is for subscribed members only. To view the full article please subscribe. It’s FREE!Log In Register

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