Photo of Dr Roberto Marques and Leisa Bradburn from the Gatton Smart farm with Lisa Mengel, Supply Chain Manager with Moffatt Fresh Produce.
Dr Roberto Marques and Leisa Bradburn from the Gatton Smart farm with Lisa Mengel, Supply Chain Manager with Moffatt Fresh Produce.

Postharvest researchers from our Gatton Smart Farm have teamed up with Moffatt Fresh Produce to find the best ways of ensuring Queensland carrots retain their world class quality and taste when they reach the dinner plates of the Middle East.

The Results will help businesses make informed decisions about the packaging and storage conditions of carrots destined for distant export markets.

It can take up to 50 days to transport carrots from farms in South-East Queensland to the tables of Middle Eastern consumers.

The journey includes around 35 days at sea and up to 15 days of holding periods at the departure and arrival ports plus produce handling in the destination market. Knowing how to manage this long supply chain is essential to deliver high quality carrots into the market, but until now there has been limited information available.

Using temperature-controlled rooms

To identify viable handling options for this carrot supply chain, the project team used temperature-controlled rooms in the postharvest laboratory to simulate typical sea freight and post-arrival conditions.

Using freshly harvested premium ‘Stefano’ carrots, they tested the effect of different packaging options and storage temperatures on carrot quality and shelf life.

Findings

The research found:

  • temperatures experienced outside the optimum 0 to 1.0°C range during the long sea journey are likely to reduce quality and shelf life at market, so using effective monitoring technologies would help minimise cold chain risks
  • carrots packed loose into cartons with a standard plastic liner performed best out of the options tested
  • delays to market in the importing country should be avoided as they are likely to shorten the shelf life of fresh carrots following the long sea journey.

Operations are benefitting

Moffatt Fresh Produce Managing Director Steven Moffatt said that the project findings were already benefiting their operations.

“Understanding further our packaging options and the impacts of temperature on carrot quality is valuable for our business,” Steven said.

“The results are helping us make decisions about our carrot export handling and storage conditions.

“The data gives us more confidence in planning for our future processing and cooling facilities.”

Further research is needed to confirm these findings over additional harvests and under real-world supply chain conditions.

View a summary of the final report.

For more information email GattonSmartFarm@daf.qld.gov.au

Background

This project was delivered as part of the Gatton Smart Farm initiative (Driving ag-tech adoption across Australia). Driving ag-tech adoption across Australia (AS20007) is funded by the Hort Frontiers Advanced Production Systems Fund, part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and contributions from the Australian Government.

Last updated: 21 Nov 2022