Oct. 26) Prime Produce International LLC, Orange, Calif., is using Xtend modified-atmosphere bags to precondition avocados without the use of ethylene gas.

“All retailers want to buy ready-to-eat avocados,” said Avi Crane, president and chief executive officer. “You rarely see green avocados on the shelf anymore.”

The solution has been to treat fruit with ethylene gas, but Crane said the ripening bag will provide higher quality and lower costs.

“That’s been the industry standard,” Crane said of ethylene gas. “When you do that, you shock the fruit. Each fruit reacts individually to the treatment, and you have problems with uniformity.”

The process also adds costs for retailers, Crane said. Crane said packing fruit in modified atmosphere bags will cost retailers about 25% less than avocados preconditioned with ethylene gas. The bag, he said, also will reduce shrink.

Business development manager Yair Crane said the process takes a day or two longer than ethylene treatment, but he said the difference will not affect buyers.

"If a retailer wants avocados delivered three times a week, they'll have it," he said. "We just start the process earlier."

The idea isn’t new. Crane said the Xtend bag from Israel-based StePac LA Ltd. has been used with avocados in Great Britain for more than five years. U.S. shippers already have applied the Xtend technology to commodities such as squash, french beans, sweet corn, bananas, and iceless broccoli and asparagus.

Prime Produce has exclusive rights to Xtend bag technology for avocados in the U.S. The company started shipping California avocados in the bags in September and started repacking Chilean avocados in the bags in October. Crane said Chilean avocados will be bagged at the source by the end of the year. The company also plans to use the bags for avocados from the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Yair Crane said Prime Produce tray-packs its avocados, which are then placed in bags inside a 25-pound box or 38-pound reusable plastic container. Bags are then closed with rubber bands or plastic ties.