Fresh Produce Facts

Fresh fruit and vegetables are living products. After harvest they continue the process of respiration which produces carbon dioxide, water and heat.

The heat produced by respiration results in warming of the produce unless it is actively kept cool e.g. by refrigeration.

The rate of deterioration of the product is largely determined by the rate of respiration. Respiration needs to be slowed to minimize product deterioration but respiration can never be completely stopped.

The rate of respiration is temperature dependent. Produce which is kept cool will have a low rate of respiration with limited heat production and low rate of deterioration. However, produce which is not actively cooled will gradually warm from the heat released during respiration, which will lead to increasing rates of respiration and deterioration as the produce continues to warm.

Different products have different rates of respiration. Those with higher rates are more highly perishable and temperature control is very critical for these products.

Ethylene is produced by many plant products and can trigger ripening and deterioration in some products. Keeping produce cool reduces the production of ethylene. Also, cooled produce is less sensitive to ethylene