Ethylene Control Inc., the Selma, Calif.-based pioneer company in controlling gasses that limit the shelf life of fresh produce and flowers, has turned 25 years old.

When Dave Biswell founded the company in 1986, only California kiwifruit grower-shippers were using ethylene controlling products, he said.

Ethylene Control marks 25th birthday

Courtesy Ethylene Control

Dave Biswell (right), founder, president and chief executive officer of Ethylene Control Inc., Selma, Calif., and Norma Harris, sales/office manager, celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company's founding and show off a company designed and manufactured EC-3+ filtration system.

“They wind up their harvests in late October, but kiwifruit stores very well and some of the fruit is often held until the following March,” said Biswell, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

Other commodities began to pay attention when in the off season kiwifruit coolers with ethylene filters were used for stone fruit, and the results were positive. Biswell began to work closely with researchers at the University of California-Davis, he said.

“There were studies in the mid-90s that found ethylene control killed or limited mold rot, and more recent studies concluded that it kills bacteria,” Biswell said.

Today, the use of Ethylene Control products is commonplace for nearly all California fresh produce including pomegranates, citrus and melons. Importers of California produce usually demand the use of ethylene controlling systems, Biswell said. So, too, do foodservice customers, he said.

Ethylene Control is the exclusive marketer of the patented Power Pellets which are used with the company’s filters, sachets and the company-manufactured EC-3+ filtration systems.

“It’s the basic ingredient that does everything,” Biswell said. “It’s just used with different delivery systems.”

In addition to produce and floral grower-shippers, Ethylene Control’s customers include retail chains and club stores, he said.

As the customer base has grown, so has Ethylene Control. It has distributors in nearly all of the globe’s major growing regions: Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and even Vietnam, Biswell said.

If the future holds a breakthrough in maintaining freshness by controlling ethylene, it is not seen in Biswell’s crystal ball.

“I haven’t found anything that’s better, more environmentally friendly, as easy to store and as easy to handle,” he said. “And as long as Power Pellets are not exposed to the elements, their shelf life is years.”