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Canned avocados could change markets

By Sean Roach , 08-Aug-2006

A new technique has been developed to can avocados, increasing their shelf life and retaining their nutrients.

Preserving the fruit without freezing will allow processors to export the nutrient-rich product to foreign markets where demand is on the rise. In France alone per capita consumption went from 400 to 1500 grams in the last year, according to Research and Markets.

The technique, developed by food engineers in Argentina, coats the avocado and treats it with an antioxidant. The process can increase shelf life of pasteurised avocado pulp and dry avocado powder to at least six months.

 

Freezing, the typical preservation technique, gives avocadoes a longer shelf life, but has a negative effect on the fruits nutritional value, said engineers Diego Prieto and Martin Cecchini in Science Live magazine.

 

Canning is also disastrous to the product because of the high oil content and the presence of the polyphenol oxidase enzyme, which is responsible for browning.

 

An organic acid, such as those found in lime and lemon, usually counteracts the browning process. However, using acids in the canning process produced an unpleasant acidic taste, said the engineers.

 

Successfully canning avocados will change the shape of the lucrative avocado market and could increase demand. Currently, the production of avocado is not meeting the growing demand of consumers in Europe.

 

The EU remains the world's largest importer of avocado, importing 40 per cent of the supply from non-member states. The Research and Markets group estimates that demand will grow in Europe as avocados become more available and the organic market begins to mature.