Coles Nurture Fund lets pear growers invest in new cool room technology

Pome fruit May 1, 2019

Brothers Con and Philip Damianopoulos conducted extensive research in Italy and identified Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere (DCA) cool room technology as the most effective way to preserve their apples and pears at the highest quality, while removing the need for high volume of plastic and water usage during the storing process.

Currently Masalki relies on manually controlling the humidity in cold store rooms by covering crates with plastic lids, and flooding the floor with water. 

The use of DCA technology is expected to reduce the amount of water used during cooling and storing, and the removal of nearly two tonnes of plastic sent to landfill each year.

There is potential for the technology to also enhance apple and pear quality. 

Currently, size and quality are often impacted due to dehydration that removes water from the produce, leading to a shorter shelf life and a reduction in visual appearance and taste.

Philip Damianopoulos said he believes as a result of the grant, Masalki will be better positioned to provide customers with top quality produce and greater availability throughout the year.

"Consumers now expect the quality of their fruit to be 100pc perfect, 100pc of the time. They expect it to taste amazing and look good and they want this all year-round," Mr Damianopoulos said.

"This new technology will remove the impact of dehydration and ensure that the fruit comes out just as nice as the day we picked it."

Solid history
THE Damianopoulos family started growing fruit in 1948 and established the company, Masalki, in 1986. 

With farms in Victoria's Goulburn Valley region, Masalki now has 10 members of the Damianopoulos family working in the business.

In addition to Masalki, the Coles Nurture Fund has offered grants to cattle, sheep, pork and vegetable producers so they can embark on plans to help their businesses be less reliant on rainfall in the long-term.

Coles chief operating officer, Greg Davis, said the $5 million commitment for drought-related projects brings the total amount provided by the Coles Nurture Fund to nearly $20 million since it was established in April 2015.

"We know the drought has been devastating for so many farmers across Australia and we've tried to help where we can with short-term relief," he said. 

"With support from the Coles Nurture Fund, we want to enable farmers to embark on projects which will help them in the long-term so they can drought-proof their businesses for the future."

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