BreatheWay branches outBreatheWay packaging membranes have been used to extend the shelf of Apio Inc.’s Eat Smart fresh-cut vegetable products since 1995.

In recent years, Guadalupe, Calif.-based Apio and its parent company, Menlo Park, Calif.-based Landec Corp., have been busy helping other produce shippers incorporate BreatheWay, a patented technology owned by Landec.

“We’ve had the opportunity to put BreatheWay on our own Apio products,” said Steve Bitler, Landec’s vice president of corporate technology. “We’d like to expand its use to customers who don’t compete with Apio.”

Customers, Bitler said, like Charlotte, N.C.-based Chiquita Brands International, which began packing bananas in BreatheWay in 2004. Over the past decade, Chiquita’s BreatheWay use has enjoyed slow, steady growth.

“It’s not going up by any orders of magnitude, but it has increased slightly,” Bitler said.
Chiquita officials did not return requests for comment.

BreatheWay membranes extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by reducing oxygen levels, managing carbon dioxide levels, protecting against chill damage during transport and maintaining moisture levels.

Chiquita bananas packed in BreatheWay have been a good fit for retailers like Starbucks, Bitler said.

With BreatheWay, the shelf life of bananas at a Starbucks can be extended by three days, which means fewer deliveries per week, he said.

And Starbucks doesn’t need a huge display to move bananas before they go bad.
“They can put out four to six at a time, and just keep feeding the top of the counter,” Bitler said.

Another BreatheWay customer, Vancouver, British Columbia-based greenhouse vegetable grower Windset Farms Inc., has plans to expand its use of BreatheWay in the near future.

Windset, a user of BreatheWay since 2010, currently packs cocktail cucumbers in 1 1/2-pound BreatheWay bags for sale in U.S. Costco stores, said John Newell, Windset’s chief operating officer.

Next on the horizon for the company are peppers packed in the bags, Newell said. They will be sold in the U.S. and Canada. Newell said a rollout date has not been announced.

Windset plans to introduce additional BreatheWay products in 2015.

In other recent developments for BreatheWay, in November, Pharr, Texas-based Agroexport LLC launched its Slice ‘n Serve avocados packed in BreatheWay membranes, which are used as case liners for boxes of fruit, Bitler said.

With BreatheWay, Agroexport can pack avocados already fully ripened. In a sealed box, the avocados, packed under the Villita label, last up to 14 days longer than they would in an open-air package.

Landec also is partnering with TransFresh Corp., Salinas, Calif., to combine BreatheWay with TransFresh’s Tectrol technology on pallet volumes of blueberries and raspberries, Bitler said.