1. What is Tectrol®?

Tectrol® is the trademarked brand name for TransFresh's family of proprietary Modified and Controlled Atmosphere systems and processes. The TransFresh Pallet Service utilizes a Tectrol® Modified Atmosphere process specific for strawberries and other berries such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. The active atmosphere component specific to fresh berries is a mixture containing high levels of carbon dioxide sealed inside an engineered plastic bag. Tectrol® and the Tectrol Service Network are both listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute for use in the production of organic foods. Tectrol® is the industry standard in pallet MA treatment for fresh berries.

2. Why use Tectrol®?

Tectrol® protects your berry purchases from shipping point all the way through retail sale, by slowing the development of market disorders such as wet and leaky or decayed produce. Increased profit potential (i.e. improved yield) can average between 2-11% (clamshell packages) compared to berries not shipped in Tectrol®. Profit potential may be even higher depending on the initial condition of the berry. The high carbon dioxide concentration sealed in at shipping point and maintained inside the pallet bag specifically inhibits gray mold development (botrytis).

3. What economics justify the use of Tectrol®?

Tectrol® can save money by reducing lost sales and represents an opportunity for potential return on investment (ROI) in the berry category. For example, for every $0.28 cents spent on Tectrol®, customers net back $0.52 cents at retail (based on 4% retail level shrink savings at $2.50 per pound). In addition to these retail category economics, shippers have a greater assurance that their strawberry shipment will arrive at the distribution center with minimal risk of claims. Note: Actual results may vary. TransFresh makes no warranty or guarantee for results. Calculate your revenue potential.

4. Does TransFresh offer the best Modified Atmosphere Package system available?

TransFresh maintains that the Tectrol® pallet system is the best MA technology available for berries today. TransFresh is a business partner/vendor with the strawberry trade for 35 years and counting. The Tectrol Service Network measures our performance at shipping and at unloading and we adapt our systems regularly to changes in packaging and fruit respiration rates. We are experts at ensuring the right MA as conditions change throughout each growing season.

5. Under what conditions do I benefit the most from using Tectrol?

Initial quality of berries can vary dramatically over the course of a shipping season making it virtually impossible to specify a set of circumstances which would maximize the Tectrol benefit. However, we have observed customers at least 18 hours from shipping point whom are frequent users of our service.  The retailer SKU study found here demonstrates that consistent use of Tectrol for 13 weeks (48-72 hour transits) decreased shrink by 2.5% and increased movement by 8.5%.

6. How does TransFresh ensure that the right levels of CO2 are in the Tectrol® bag?

The Tectrol Service Network provides each shipper with customized materials and equipment to help assure efficient and consistent application of the Tectrol® process. TransFresh technicians continually monitor equipment and service techniques at each shipper location. Machines are set to deliver CO2 atmospheres specific to fruit variety and pallet volume. The Tectrol Service Network routinely spot checks atmosphere arrivals at DC's throughout the country. By actively monitoring the Tectrol® performance at both shipping and receiving on a routine basis, you are assured that the correct levels of Tectrol® are sealed in the bag.

7. Can the Tectrol pallet system be used to complement food safety programs?

Yes. While primarily designed to inhibit mold and decays on fresh berries, the inherent nature of our sealed system offers some additional assurances against food tampering, contamination and material trace back. Please visit our resource center article "Tectrol and Food Safety" for a full discussion.

8. When do I remove the Tectrol® bag?

Remove the bag upon arrival.

9. Does the benefit of Tectrol® go away?

No. There is a "lag effect". Berries treated with the Tectrol® MA system during transit simply do not deteriorate as quickly as berries without Tectrol®. Appearance is maintained, and shelf life is extended. Based on recent study See full report here: A 7% reduction in experiencing wet, leaky and decaying berries on display resulted in an additional unit volume increase of 8.5% more strawberries at the cash register per week.

10. Is it possible for Tectrol® strawberries to develop an "off flavor"?

This issue very rarely occurs and is generally related to a significant break in the cold chain while the Tectrol® bag is still sealed around the pallet load. Strawberries respire, consuming O2 and generating their own CO2. If the product temperature increases substantially, so does the respiration rate. If CO2 concentrations were to become too high (O2 too low) for too long, the strawberries could take on a "fizzy" flavor. In general, this sensation dissipates 24 hours after removal from atmosphere. Part of the TransFresh Service Network's quality assurance program is to prevent issues such as this from occurring. In the event the Tectrol Service Network detects packaging or transportation methods that may lead to off flavors under specific MAP conditions, the Network responds immediately to find and resolve the issue.

11. What about other technologies?

Tectrol® is the standard for Pallet Modified Atmosphere system or a Modified Atmosphere Package (MAP) in pallet units. Alternate bag systems or open bag methods do not rely on a sealed enclosure.

Technical Differences – Tectrol® vs. Open Bag

The Tectrol® Atmosphere pallet systems sealed enclosure keeps the correct balance of O2 (oxygen) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) inside a sealed pallet bag, protecting fresh berries.

12. Why is there no large difference between Tectrol® treated fruit, open bag shipping methods and standard refrigeration fruit at arrival?

Generally, if quality is strong, we do not expect to see a major difference on arrival. Even "no bag" versus Tectrol® shows only subtle differences on arrival. However, after 2-3 days there is a visible difference in freshness and quality in the Tectrol- protected products. Tectrol's® proven value to the retail trade is realized 2-3 days after arrival. Tectrol® serves as an effective "insurance" against in-store shrink. Calculate your potential revenue.

13. Do Tectrol® treated strawberries arrive warmer than “open bag” shipping methods which do not have a seal?

No. The University of California at Davis Study with graph confirms that temperatures inside bags without a seal warmed at comparable rates to Tectrol®.

14. Do Tectrol® treated strawberries arrive warmer than non-treated strawberries?

Yes. In careful side by side studies comparing temperature profiles of strawberries loaded without Tectrol® (no bag) and with Tectrol®, the Tectrol® product averaged 2° F warmer upon arrival. However, during subsequent, post-arrival observations, the Tectrol®-treated fruit proved to have less mold and longer shelf life than the matched, non-treated fruit despite the temperature difference.

There are many factors which contribute to in transit warming of any perishable. For a full discussion of this issue, please visit our Resource Center article "Solving the Problem of In-Transit Warming".

15. Should reefer settings be different when shipping Tectrol® versus standard refrigeration (no bag)?

Yes, the Tectrol bag provides about 2° F protection against top freezing, especially in the nose and rear pallet positions in a trailer. However, actual reefer performance is extremely dependent on the reefer unit calibration, condition of bulkheads, air chutes, and loading patterns. A typical bill of lading instructions provided by a shipper uses the words “maintain the load between 33-34° F. We concur with this advice. It is left up to the driver and his knowledge of his reefer system to determine how to do this. See our discussion on “Solving the Problem of In-Transit Warming”.

17. Can Tectrol be used on organically grown and produced perishables?

Yes. Tectrol Modified Atmosphere is listed by OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) for use in the production of organic foods. TransFresh has maintained this listing since 2000.

18. Where can I find more information about Tectrol® Modified Atmosphere systems?

Tectrol® Atmospheres represent TransFresh's most current knowledge on the application of controlled and modified atmosphere systems for the protection of perishables in the commercial world. If you have special needs or circumstances, contact us. New research is ongoing in many institutions and labs around the world. An excellent resource other than TransFresh is the University of California at Davis which also maintains a comprehensive website with postharvest technology research and information.