The freshest way to export fresh vegetables to destinations with unsuitable conditions for their production, such as the United Arab Emirates, has been born. We are talking about “transportable agriculture,” which involves the cultivation of ‘aeroponics’ crops in containers transported by ships to their destinations.
The basic principle of aeroponics is that the roots are not underground, but suspended in the air, and the plant is fed by spraying its hanging roots with a nutrient-rich aqueous solution. In aeroponics, the root environment is clear of diseases or pests, so that plants can grow faster and healthier than those planted on soil.
“Initially, we thought about the cultivation of lettuce and its varieties,” explains Sulema González, Project Coordinator of Markmarine.
“The process begins in the aeroponic greenhouses. After twenty days (ten days before they finish growing and developing), the lettuces will be transported with great care to the ship, which will be properly conditioned with the right temperature, spray system and LED lighting, so as to keep the environmental conditions stable and guarantee the healthy growth of the plant. When the ship arrives at its destination, the plant will have finished growing during the journey and will be ready to be distributed and sold, fresh and alive and still with its roots,” explains Sulema.
With this new project, the Spanish company, specialising in logistics services, wants to give consumers in the United Arab Emirates an opportunity to purchase fresh, healthy food that retains all its nutritional properties.
Fresh cut fruit range on board
The Spanish company has also found a solution to be able to deliver fresh cut fruits and vegetables with a longer shelf life to retailers in distant export destinations.
According to Sulema González, “since the demand for fresh cut foods has increased in recent years in the hospitality sector (hotels, restaurants and catering), and given the convenience of already washed and cut fruits and vegetables, we have devised the New Reefer Ships Venture project, whose main goal is the transformation of conventional refrigerated transport ships into floating facilities with peeling, cutting and packing machines able to deliver processed products ready for sale in supermarkets.”
“This way, we also ‘recycle’ reefer boats that are currently in disuse, since the trend among exporters today is to export in containers, as they are more cost-effective, among other advantages,” she adds.
Sulema points out that with this system, they guarantee maximum freshness to the consumer, with at least seven days of shelf life after the product is placed on the supermarket shelves.
“This innovative project, based on the packing of fruits on board a refrigerated boat during their shipment, will facilitate the products’ consumption and make it possible for consumers from different parts of the world to enjoy them all year round, as the fruit’s seasonality won’t be a problem with this form of production,” points out Sulema.
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