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Finding the sweet spot: 'SafePod' improves long-term apple storage

A new system to reduce spoilage during long-term apple storage could save the fresh produce industry up to £6 million per year.

After harvest, apples are stored for up to 12 months in large controlled atmosphere stores. Low temperature, low oxygen and high CO2 stop them over-ripening, but they can also spoil with insufficient oxygen.

Data breakout

£615,000 Agri-Tech Catalyst Investment from BBSRC and Innovate UK
>200 SafePods sold or leased in 2019
250,000 Tonnes of apples and pears estimated to be stored each year in the UK
£6 million Possible savings to the UK’s fresh produce industry

The SafePod system, built by Storage Control Systems with scientific support from the University of Greenwich’s Natural Resources Institute, finds the perfect storage conditions by monitoring apples’ respiration during storage. It detects if the apples become stressed and require more oxygen, and indicates when they have reached the end of their storage life. The system reduces waste via spoilage and allows apples to be stored for longer. Safepod could be used to improve long-term storage across a range of fresh produce.

SafePod was developed in collaboration with Sainsbury’s PLC, AC Goatham & Sons and Avalon Produce Ltd. The system is now being trialled by apple growers in the UK and North America, with more than 200 units sold or leased in 2019.

Key impacts

  • SafePod prevents apple spoilage during long-term storage, saving money via reduced wastage
  • Potential environmental impact by increased availability of UK produce, reducing reliance on imported goods.

“Nobody before has been able to measure what’s happening to apples in storage. The idea is to reduce losses and extend storage.” Dr Debbie Rees, University of Greenwich.

Read the full impact evidence report:

BBSRC SafePod Impact Case Study (PDF 416KB)

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