Fresh-cut fruit refers to convenient ready-to-eat fruit pieces that have been sealed in modified atmosphere or other specialized bags or containers and made available to the consumer. Such products have a shelf life of up to 21 days. Fresh-cut produce has been available since the late 1980's with fresh-cut carrots and salads mixes leading the way; but thus far fresh-cut fruit has been limited to melons, berries and other fruits that did not suffer from enzymatic browning.
Today, we are seeing more fresh-cut fruit and vegetables being consumed as people seek to replace unhealthy snack foods with healthier fruit and vegetable products. The fresh-cut industry in 2006 was valued at approximately $22 billion in North America.
Over the past 10 years a number of companies have developed fresh-cut apple slices, using various antioxidant treatments to impede browning. These products are now found at fast food outlets, a multitude of food service venues and among produce retailers. The antioxidant solution used to treat these apples adds significantly to their cost and can result in some off-flavoring.
OSF aspires to help the tree fruit industry gain a more prominent role in the fresh-cut market by developing commercial non-browning apples, pears, peaches and cherries. The fact that they don’t turn brown will reduce the cost of fresh-cut preparation and improve the quality of these products.