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The Avocado Market and High Barrier Packaging

The avocado, in addition to having a delicious flavor and creamy texture, is a nutritious fruit containing monounsaturated fats, which are healthy for the heart, help increase good cholesterol (HDL), and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). Moreover, it gives us more potassium than a banana.

In the cosmetics industry, it is used as a dry skin moisturizer and anti-wrinkle solution, while its oil in the food industry is offered to the consumer as gourmet oil. Another use of its seed is in the manufacture of biodegradable disposables.

Five countries export 80% of the tons of avocado worldwide. Mexico exports 44%; a total 2,479 tons. The main avocado demand comes from the United States. Yet, there are other countries that are demonstrating an above-average growth, which must be satisfied as soon as possible.

In addition to the challenge of growth in demand, the new lifestyle of consumers requires new packaging with features such as portability, practicality and convenience, among others.

On the other hand, the exportation of the product to places far away from its origin requires lengthening the life of the product. The time it takes the packed product to lose only one of its characteristic qualities can be short; this time is often measured as the elapsed time after which the consumer is not willing to acquire the product. This becomes the biggest challenge that food processors have had because of their short shelf life and the need to sell it freshly drawn. 

The enzymes that avocados contain cause an oxidation process by having contact with oxygen. This oxidation causes the natural yellow-green color to become brown. To slow down the deterioration of the product, a special process is required. Packing and processing guacamole for retail outlets requires artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life due to some of these factors.

The above is opposite to the tendency of consumers to acquire products with a “natural” seal and without additives. Therefore, some processors are choosing to use High Pressure Processing (HPP) equipment that eliminates or minimizes the use of artificial conservatives.

HPP is a food preservation method that consists of subjecting products to a high level of hydrostatic pressure for a few minutes after being packaged in watertight containers. This pressure eliminates a large number of pathogens while extending the product’s shelf life up to three times more than normal processing, and preserves the organoleptic properties of the product.

HPP requires containers that are sufficiently flexible to be compressed during the process and that can recover to their original shape at following the process.

A high barrier package combines the benefits and specific properties of each polymer through co-extrusion and/or multi-layered collation. The basic composition of the container is polymer/adhesive/barrier/adhesive/polymer.

Polymer gives the container mechanical resistance, the ability to be sealed, impermeability, etc. while the barrier gives oxygen permeability, which causes the oxidation in the avocado.

Macro trends and habit changes in consumers represent great opportunities in the development of packaging that meets such needs: Variety of shapes and sizes

-Variety of decorations

-Portions

-Lower weight and lower energy consumption.

-Higher volume efficiency (stacked).

-More useful life.

-Optimal preservation of food.

High-barrier plastic packaging combines these characteristics, enabling the development of traditional product line extensions and the development of other new products or categories.

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