Packaging is one of the important aspects to consider in addressing postharvest losses in fruits and vegetables. It is enclosing food produce or product to protect it from mechanical injuries, tampering, and contamination from physical, chemical, and biological sources.
Packaging as a postharvest handling practice in tomato production is essential in putting the produce into sizeable portions for easy handling. However, using unsuitable packaging can cause damage, resulting in losses.
Some common packaging materials used in most developing countries include wooden crates, cardboard boxes, woven palm baskets, nylon sacks, jute sacks, and polythene bags.
Most of the abovementioned packaging materials do not give all the protection needed by the commodity. Whilst the majority of these packaging materials like the nylon sacks do not allow good aeration within the packaged commodity causing a build-up of heat due to respiration, others like the woven basket have rough surfaces and edges which cause mechanical injuries to the produce.
The wooden crate and the woven palm basket are some of the common packaging materials used in Nigeria, for packaging tomatoes. The major shortcoming of the wooden crate is in its height which creates a lot of compressive forces on fruits located at the base of the crate. These undesirable compressive forces cause internal injuries which finally result in reduced postharvest quality of the tomatoes.
So there is a great need for a better way of packaging tomatoes.