DiMare Fresh Chooses Safe & Reliable Ethylene Application For Fruit Ripening With Catalytic Generators

Providing the equipment to ripen fresh produce is more than just a business to Catalytic Generators – it’s serving the public by providing them with ripe, ready to eat produce. “We want every shopper to be able to walk into their local grocer, need tropical fruit or tomatoes for that night’s recipe, or tomorrow’s breakfast, find them, and purchase them,” stated Greg Akins, President & CEO of Catalytic Generators.

The DiMare Company has helped to supply North America with ready to eat produce by using Catalytic Generators’ ethylene generators and Ethy-Gen® II Ripening Concentrate for the ripening of tomatoes, bananas, and avocados for over 35 years. The DiMare Company is a 93-year-old vertically integrated produce company three generations deep that grows, packs, repacks, and distributes a variety of produce items with growing operations in California and Florida. The DiMare Fresh side of the company is a nationwide network of repack/distribution facilities located in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas.  At their farm affiliated packing operations, DiMare solely ripens tomatoes. At repacking operations, the company primarily ripens bananas.

“For as long as I can remember, DiMare has trusted Catalytic Generators for its ripening services. We know we can rely on their ethylene generators for consistency, functionality, and safety, as well as their reliable service,” stated Tony DiMare, Vice President of DiMare Companies.

DiMare uses both the Easy-Ripe® and Centralized Ripening System® (CRS) ethylene generators across their facilities. The Easy-Ripe® ethylene generator is a portable solution that can be moved around the facility to a room ready for ripening. Simply pour in a litre bottle of Ethy-Gen® II Ripening Concentrate and ethylene production begins. The Centralized Ripening System® produces continuous, consistent ethylene production for superior ripening and degreening in the form of a wall-mounted, narrow generator. Rather than transmit pressurized ethylene by pipe into each individual room, the system makes ethylene right inside the ripening room. Each CRS generator is connected to a pumping station of Ethy-Gen® II and output levels can be easily controlled. DiMare converted older ripening room facilities in Florida and California to the CRS due to the system streamlines and simplified ripening operation which makes for a much easier application.

Centralized Ripening System (CRS)

Centralized Ripening System (CRS)

All generators from the company have similar benefits. An adjustable ethylene output produces consistent, non-pressurized and safe ethylene levels for uniform ripening and degreening, and they can adapt to any ethylene PPM requirement or room size. With the specially formulated liquid Ethy-Gen® II, the generators easily make only as much ethylene as needed for a target room, eliminating the need to store large quantities of compressed gas on site.

“Most of our repacking facilities are newer facilities, so we installed all CRS type systems in these operations when they were built for simplicity and because the CRS system is the latest state-of-the-art technology for ripening produce,” stated DiMare.

Catalytic Generators supplies safe, innovative ripening products to the fresh produce industry that can transform entire ripening operations. Ethylene generators from the company are the only ones to be certified by both UL® and TÜV and Ethy-Gen® II Ripening Concentrate is the only ripening fluid to pass the stringent requirements of US-EPA and UK-CRD. “We believe our customers, like DiMare, simply want the best produce to offer their consumers. By improving their ripening operations with our technology, that’s exactly what they’re getting. Our focus is to simplify ethylene application so that companies like DiMare, who has so many demands upon their time, can rest easy about ethylene and concentrate on other things,” said Akins.

Introducing the Auto-Ripe® Generator 2021

Catalytic Generators launched the Auto-Ripe® Generator 2021 this March as an upgrade to the original Auto-Ripe®. The new Auto-Ripe® Generator 2021 was developed after a recognized need for wall-mounted, vertical storage of Ethy-Gen® II Ripening Concentrate and ethylene production within a generator to better fit in tightly packed ripening rooms. Ripeners can have peace of mind over their ethylene application as mechanical equipment enters and exits narrow ripening rooms.

Innovative Vertical Design

Auto Ripe Back

Previously, the original Auto-Ripe® was our solution for ripeners that needed a wall-mounted ethylene generator small enough in depth to be avoided by busy forklifts or other warehouse machinery with a lean, horizontal design and large 4.0 litre reservoir. At only 5.6 inches / 14.2 cm depth, the Auto-Ripe® Generator 2021 goes one step further with multiple reservoir sizes available and a vertical design with an easy-installation wall mount feature.

The large 4.0 litre reservoir holds enough Ethy-Gen® II Ripening Concentrate to perform up to four ripening cycles, in a one or two load ripening room. For customers that desire a smaller reservoir to hold just enough for one ripening cycle, the Auto-Ripe® Generator 2021 offers additional 2.5 and 1.0 litre reservoir sizes.

Low-Level Indication Lights for Ethy-Gen® II Ripening Concentrate

Beyond the new design, this model features low-level indication lights that turn on when the reservoir of Ethy-Gen® II reaches low levels of 250 mL (0.26 qt.) or less. Indication lights can also be connected to a ripening room control system for remote notification. The new low-level indication lights add flexibility for the placement of the Auto-Ripe® Generator 2021 within each ripening room, as well. With the visual low-level reservoir notification, ripeners can easily see when each ethylene generator needs to be refilled whether they are located at the front or back of a room. 

We believe ripeners with large-scale ripening facilities that always need an ethylene generator in each room will find this ethylene generator incredibly beneficial. Additionally, like our other models, the Auto-Ripe® Generator 2021 complies with TÜV safety standards. Regardless of whether a new customer or current customer is interested in leasing or purchasing the Auto-Ripe 2021, they can contact our sales team here to request specific information about installation, pricing, or replacing their ethylene generators.

Ripe & Ready To Eat Mangos Increase Retail Sales

The National Mango Board has recently partnered with Catalytic Generators to explain how a ripening mango program may work.

Similar to how ripening has impacted the world of avocados, bananas, pears, kiwis, and other produce items, it has completely revolutionized the mango industry. The National Mango Board, working alongside produce professionals, has determined that ripening protocols, sometimes called pre-conditioning, have had a positive impact on consumer satisfaction and sales for ripened fruit. “We have seen retailers who have converted to the ripening program sustain increases in volume, said Tammy Wiard, retail marketing manager for the National Mango Board.

University of California-Davis conducted in-store consumer tests on behalf of the National Mango Board indicating that consumer acceptance doubles, increasing from approximately 39% for mature/unripe mangos to 87% for the same fruit ripe/ready to eat1. The proper use of the mango ripening protocol, educational, and promotional programs may increase consumption, increase sales, and benefit overall consumer health,” said Manuel Michel, executive director of the National Mango Board. “Consumers have said time and time again that they prefer the taste and quality of fruit that has been through ripening programs. They constantly boast that they look forward to purchasing from those particular retailers again.”

In previous years, retailers focused on the longest shelf-life possible to avoid spoilage or waste, save on costs, and make the most sales. There is irony in this way of thinking, though, as a multitude of data proves that the expense of an ethylene ripening program to provide consumers with ripe, ready to eat fruit will help increase sales tremendously. “We believe the additional time, effort and minimal investment involved in ripening mangos provides the best quality fruit and customer satisfaction,” said Greg Akins, President & CEO of Catalytic Generators.

Receiving And Quality Assessment

One of the most important steps in developing a successful mango ripening program is to receive mangos that were harvested mature. Fruit that was harvested immature will soften but will not develop a pleasing flavor, and ripening does not help an immature mango reach a satisfactory eating quality. For this reason, understanding mango maturity and ripeness indicators are essential to mango handling and ripening protocols.

At harvest, mangos are high in starches and acids, and low in soluble solids / sugars. During ripening, mature mangos undergo several significant changes: with a decrease in firmness, fruit sugars increase while acidity and starch concentrations decrease. Internal flesh color will also develop from pale yellow to deep golden yellow. Maturity at harvest and throughout the ripening process can be judged by a combination of factors, including flesh color, firmness, SSC (soluble solids concentration), dry matter, and fruit shoulder shape.

The National Mango Board’s research team and partners have developed a five-stage Mango Maturity and Ripeness Guide (MMRG2) for the six most common commercial mango varieties sold in the United States. The guide provides internal flesh color, corresponding ranges for SSC, and firmness for each state. The recommendation is that at least 90% of the mangos tested in a shipment should fall in stage 2 or higher to be accepted.

Mango Expectations At Receiving

  • Mangos are harvested when mature (firm), but not ripe or ready to eat (soft)
  • A mature mango will ripen normally with increasing percentage of soluble solids concentration (SSC) and decreasing starch and firmness (pounds force) to become flavorful and ready to eat
  • After receiving, move fruit directly to store between 50°F to 54°F (10°C to 12.2°C) depending on the variety of mango. Do not allow the fruit to sit out on the dock where it may become too cold or too warm. The same rule applies for outgoing fruit.
  • At this point, an assessment can be made to determine if the mangos will benefit from further ripening.

Mango quality should be checked at all stages of the supply chain to ensure that the fruit was harvested at the correct maturity and will ripen to a ready to eat state that will satisfy consumers. Quality Assurance professionals can reference the Mango Postharvest Best Management Practices Manual available in English and Spanish.

The Ripening Process

Catalytic Generators’ ethylene generators and Ethy-Gen® II Ripening Concentrate form a system that, when used as directed, produces concentrations ideal for conditioning a variety of mangos. Since mangos produce ethylene naturally, this makes the use of this natural ripening hormone safe and effective. A mature mango will respond to the externally applied ethylene by producing its own ethylene and ripen normally. Ripening programs benefit from using safe and effective ethylene generators to move mangos toward the ripe and ready to eat stage prior to store-level distribution.

“Before engaging in a ripening program, the intention to ripen and the required maturity level at harvest should be clearly communicated up the supply chain. It is critical that this be communicated throughout the retail organization,” stated Michel. Key factors in a proper ripening program include temperature management, storage, air flow, humidity, venting, and of course, ethylene application.

Ideal Mango Ripening Conditions

  • The ripening process is a four-day cycle and temperatures depend on the country of origin and time of year. For more details, please contact NMB partner Dennis Kihlstadius3 at Produce Technical Services.
  • Relative humidity of 90-95% will reduce potential water loss and mango shriveling
  • During ripening, carbon dioxide levels should always be kept below 1.0% by exchanging room air with outside air (commonly called “venting”).
  • Ethylene levels should be kept at 100 parts per million (ppm) for a 24-hour cycle
  • Ethylene and carbon dioxide levels should be monitored during ripening and vent as needed

Ripening Program Implementation

“Stores who have converted to pre-conditioned fruit have special point of sale materials to successfully communicate the “ripe and ready” fruit,” stated Wiard. Display temperatures, mango quality (internal and external), size of the displays, items stored with mangos, hazards that could affect mango quality, backroom temperatures, rotation system, and staff knowledge are all essential factors when revising or implementing a ripening program. To help ensure success, produce department managers and associates should receive communication and training about the ripe/ready to eat mango program on an ongoing basis.

Stores should increase the frequency of ordering to help keep shipments fresh. The new shipments of conditioned mangos will be softer than what most stores are accustomed to, which means that additional care should be taken in handling and building the displays. Clear signage indicating that mangos are “Ready to Eat” will call the attention of customers, educate them about selection, cutting, and usage. This offers retailers the opportunity to not only help increase sales but educate consumers about the many benefits and advantages of purchasing a ripe mango.

“Providing customers with mangos that are ripe and ready to eat helps lead to repeat sales from retail centers. The increase in mango purchases over the last few years is a clear indication of what consumers are looking for, and that is ripe mangos,” stated Michel.


1 Nassur Rde C, González-Moscoso S, Crisosto GM, Lima LC, Vilas Boas EV, Crisosto CH. Describing Quality and Sensory Attributes of 3 Mango (Mangifera indica L.) Cultivars at 3 Ripeness Stages Based on Firmness. J Food Sci. 2015 Sep;80(9):S2055-63. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12989. Epub 2015 Aug 7. PMID: 26257310.

2 For hard copies of the MMRG, please contact the National Mango Board.

3 Ripe mango point of sale display materials provided by the NMB can be found here.

Optimizing Your Banana Ripening Room for Ethylene Application

As the go-to potassium source, breakfast item, or quick energy supply, bananas are beloved to consumers worldwide. As a ripener, providing customers with the highest quality, perfectly ripened bananas available should be a goal across the entire fresh produce industry. The first step in providing customers with exceptional quality bananas is preparing and optimizing banana ripening rooms for ethylene application.

Preparing Your Ripening Room

Bananas bruise easily, green or ripe. Careful handling at all stages will reduce bruising and enable you to sell the bananas for more money. Beyond this, the following recommendations are suggested within banana ripening rooms:


• The room must be as airtight as possible to prevent too much of the ethylene from leaking out.
• Must be sufficiently insulated to be able to properly maintain the room temperature
• Must have adequate refrigeration; the refrigeration equipment must have the capacity to accurately control the pulp temperature.
• May need heating equipment to maintain proper room temperature in cold weather.
• Rooms should be constructed so that the airflow path from the refrigeration system, through the load, and back to the refrigeration system is unobstructed.
• Refrigerated air in the room must always circulate uniformly throughout the load.
• To ensure the best quality ripened fruit, we recommend consulting with room design & build experts.

Pressurized Ripening Rooms


Perhaps the most important advancement in fruit ripening since the advent of the banana box is the development of Pressurized Ripening Rooms. The key feature of these rooms is that conditioned air is forced through the product rather than the product just being stored in a temperature-controlled room. The system passes air through each box or series of boxes before returning to the evaporator. Therefore, any “air-stacking” or “cross-stacking” of boxes is not necessary, and the result is less handling of the fruit and improved product quality. For non-pressurized rooms, the boxes of bananas should be “air stacked”. That is, the boxes should be arranged in an offset pattern to allow the air to circulate among all the boxes since a non-pressurized room design will not pass air through boxes but around them.

Airflow throughout the produce is incredibly important as bananas are extremely sensitive to temperature. “Chilling” or “cooking” damage can occur if the fruit is subject to temperatures below 56° F or excessively high temperatures for several hours. Irregular temperature exposure can be identified by external coloring. Chilled fruit causes the peel to have a smoky, dull gray appearance (this may not show up for 18 to 24 hours after chilling occurs). Cooked bananas will result in a peel that has a brown to orange appearance, may be soft, and have a short shelf life.

Ethylene Application Recommendations

Once proper quality control checks are done for the load of bananas, the amount of time ethylene is applied to bananas will vary based on the fruit maturity. Initially, ethylene should be applied for a minimum of 24 hours during the early phase of the ripening cycle (we recommend 100-150 PPM).

To achieve this, the ethylene generator settings will depend on the size of the ripening room. It should be noted that all rooms vary in terms of how air-tight they are, so if more precise PPM determination is required, air testing for ethylene PPM levels is recommended.

Ripeners can follow banana ripening guidelines listed in the “Suggested Guide for Banana Ripening” chart which includes additional pulp temperature, color index, and ventilation recommendations. When bananas are ripening, they release carbon dioxide which will build up in a ripening room. The CO2 production begins as the fruit ripens enters the “climacteric” phase or the period when bananas release ethylene and have an elevated rate of respiration (along with a great deal of other physiological changes). Respiration involves the uptake of oxygen, the release of carbon dioxide, and the breakdown of starches. Carbon dioxide concentrations above 1% (10,000 ppm) will retard ripening, delay the effects of ethylene and cause quality problems. Therefore, it is recommended to vent rooms by opening the doors for 20 minutes every 12 hours, after the first 24 hours of ripening, or by automatic control. More detailed information regarding the importance of room ventilation can be found here.


Sources:
UC Davis. Suggested Guide for Banana Ripening.

The University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Postharvest Center Publications.” UC Postharvest Technology Center, 2021, postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Library/Postharvest_Center_Publications/.

The University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Postharvest Center Publications.” UC Postharvest Technology Center, 2021, postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Library/Postharvest_Center_Publications/.