While calls for a greener world increase, so do calls for changes in food production and marketing methods, driven largely by agencies like the United Nations and consumer trends. Increasing organic food production is one of those changes and has been called “a worldwide growth industry” as demand for organic food grows. Organic foods now fill large sections of the fresh vegetable and fruit display shelves in most supermarkets and are increasingly evident in meat and poultry departments. Organic food production is increasing to the extent that Marsha Laux, Agricultural Marketing Resource Center of Iowa State University, projects that everyday use of organic products of all kinds will be both accepted and routine by the year 2025.
Consumers expect that foods labeled ‘organic’ are safe to eat, that produce is grown without the application of pesticides or artificial fertilizers, and that livestock are raised using organic feeds, without antibiotics or growth hormones. However, along with expectations that organic foods are safer, and perhaps fresher, there are some disadvantages buying organic. To get the assurances of food safety when we purchase foods with certified organic labels, we pay more. Costs of production and handling using organic protocols are higher all the way down the line to the retail store
Without the benefits of the very chemicals that keep produce fresh and crisp in transit and on the shelf, organic produce actually spoils more quickly. Of course, food spoilage in transport and on the shelf is natural since decay processes begin as soon as foods are harvested or before. But, organics generally have a shorter shelf life and retail merchandisers often take huge losses by having to trim organic produce and discard meat products, adding more to the final consumer price.
So what is the difference between handling organic and conventional food displays in the store? Without the protection of anti-bacterial agents, pathogens have started to multiply and to invade the cell walls of plants and animal tissue within hours of harvesting. Deterioration accelerates over time, and bacterial growth results in diminished flavor and triggers unpleasant odors, even when not harmful to human health. Bacterial contamination can become more dangerous to humans when goods sit too long in poor conditions and can result in food poisoning, at times with fatal results. Unknown contaminants, light, variable temperatures, and changing humidity contribute to diminishing quality as the food sits ready to be purchased. Obviously, once food is no longer appealing, it must be discounted or until it can no longer be sold.
Do organic vegetables, fruits and meat mean fresher products? NBC Today Show correspondent Janice Lieberman asked whether organic foods are actually any fresher than conventional products. The investigative reporter did some testing to find out and sent two samples each of lettuce, broccoli, chicken and milk to a lab for analysis. “The testers did not know which ones were organic and which were conventional”, said Lieberman. As it turned out, the organic broccoli and lettuce had much higher levels of bacteria than the conventional. It’s not harmful bacteria, but it is bacteria that will spoil your produce much quicker. And what that means to the shopper who is spending more for organic, is the product will have a much shorter shelf life. The inevitable signs of shortened shelf life and diminishing quality are shrinkage, fading, drying, and changes in texture and color that render foods less palatable and less desirable to customers.
Along with increasing science based methods available to preserve food and to control the potential for food poisoning comes greater consumer awareness and fears about potential health risks from eating contaminated foods. Food retailers are always aware of threats to the value of their goods and would ask whether organic food displays require special care in the retail supermarket. If so, what can Econofrost recommend? Econofrost night covers provide a logical solution that is easy to install, easy to operate, and can pay for themselves in months.
Clearly, perishable goods last longer in colder, more stable temperatures where bacterial growth is controlled. Market Group Ventures Inc., a world leader in providing retail technology solutions for merchandisers presents a solution in the form of thermal blinds that maintain optimal temperatures for preserving food freshness in refrigerated display cases that are open during the day. Studies have shown that using Econofrost thermal shields during nighttime hours when the store is closed extends product shelf life and have demonstrated reduced waste from daily produce trim up to 75%. By stabilizing the temperature of a refrigerated commercial display case overnight, the contents of the case remain colder during daytime hours for as long as 15 hours after the night blinds are rolled up and out of the way during the day.
Keeping organic produce clean and hydrated also helps ensure food safety and integrityEconofrost night covers are hygienic and easily cleaned, and are made from a perforated fabric that prevents the accumulation of humidity that promotes mildew and cultivates bacterial growth. Econofrost thermal shields help control the temperature and humidity of perishable foods stored in refrigerated display coolers and keep the contents of refrigerated cabinets cooler for longer periods of time.
Extending shelf life is not the only economic benefit of Econofrost night covers. Display coolers that are open to warm store temperatures inevitably waste energy. Just by pulling down Econofrost night curtains while the store is closed, retail food stores prevent unnecessary energy losses and reduce heating and air conditioning costs. Where Econofrost woven aluminum night covers are installed, tests have shown energy savings to be as high as 37% to 50%.
Contact your local utility provider and ask about rebate programs that might be available in your area for the purchase of night covers. See our list of energy companies who participate in rebate programs for night covers.
Benefits of Econofrost Night Covers:
-More stable, cooler temperatures in refrigerated cabinets
-Extended equipment life
-Inventory protection during power outage
-Control of shrinkage and reduce trim
-Eligible for energy saving rebates from utility companies
-Econofrost has made over 250,000 installations in nearly 30 countries.
Market Group Ventures, Inc, the parent corporation for Econofrost and Promolux Lighting International, has served the supermarket industry since 1975.