In the REMA 1000 store in Korsør, Denmark, Jørgen Nordtorp and his team were looking for a solution to the costly food waste generated by the supermarket.
Every day, a substantial amount of fresh produce, including fruit, vegetables and flowers, were going bad and had to be discarded by the store.
The challenge faced by the team at REMA 1000 is faced by countless other supermarkets.
This is because many of the contributing factors to food decay are caused by the retail environment – and even the produce itself.
Temperature and humidity are two of the main issues affecting the shelf-life and quality of fresh fruit and vegetables. Different produce often requires different temperatures to stay fresh and too much humidity promotes mould growth.
Another factor which contributes to shelf-life is air quality.
Bacteria, mould and ethylene gas in the air all contribute to faster decay in unprocessed food.
Ethylene is a hydrocarbon gas, occurring as part of the natural ripening process of fruits and vegetables.
Ethylene gas can build up in supermarkets, warehouses and cold storage facilities due to the volume of produce being stored there.
This creates accelerated ripening in ethylene-sensitive produce such as berries, broccoli and cabbage, which gets worse over time due to the high turnover of stock making it impossible to fully decontaminate the space between deliveries.
In October 2020, the REMA 1000 store installed the Airius PureAir system in their fresh produce, bakery and florist departments to tackle the challenges of temperature, humidity and air quality.
Of the outcome, Jørgen Nordtorp said:
The Airius PureAir Series incorporates two optional technologies, BiPolar Ionisation and Photohydroionisation to create ions and Hydroperoxides – which are both safe, naturally occurring elements often referred to as ‘Mother Nature’s Cleaning Agents’.
These purifying cleaning agents are continuously circulated by the destratification fan, bonding with mould, germs, bacteria and ethylene gas and inactivating them – making the area treated by the unit safe, odour free and ideal for food storage.
As an example of how the Airius PureAir Series works to inhibit decay in fresh produce, Airius produced two time-lapse videos showing the difference between environments protected by the PureAir and those without.
In a five day study, two identical sets of fresh produce including fruits, vegetables, bread and meat were kept in equivalent environments, save for one environment incorporating a PureAir system.
Within the PureAir protected environment, the fresh produce showed little sign of decay even by the end of the 5 days, while the produce in the other group quickly spoiled.
The second test used the same conditions for two identical bowls of fruit over the course of 7 days.
By day 3 the fruit in the environment not protected by a PureAir system was already showing signs of decay and was almost entirely decomposed by day 7.
All of the fruit in the PureAir group remained completely fresh at the end of the test.
At the REMA 1000, Jørgen Nordtorp is happy to report the same results, saying that the PureAir fans
Jørgen says that he is looking forward to the upcoming strawberry season now that the store is using Airius PureAir fans, as the berries struggle to withstand the temperature changes they are exposed to throughout the day – often being discarded in large numbers.
Danish grocery stores usually store all of their fresh fruit and vegetables in cold rooms overnight to protect them from the stale air of the store rooms. Staff at the REMA 1000 were spending 20-30 minutes each day moving goods in and out of overnight storage.
Now that the Airius PureAir system is installed, the fan provides continuous air circulation, balancing the temperature gradients within the store.
As a result of the successful installation of the Airius PureAir at the Skovejj store in Korsør, REMA 1000 are now in discussions regarding rolling the PureAir system out throughout the rest of their stores.
For those trying to ensure the safety of their workplaces throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Airius PureAir Series offers the next level in air and surface purification. Please visit www.airius.co.uk or call us on 01202 554 200 to find out more.