The final outcome of the breathing cycle is composed of: heat, carbon dioxide, water vapour and some aromatic compounds. The more intense is the breathing activity of fruit, the faster is its senescence and deterioration and therefore the shorter is its storage period. The use of cold has been for a long time the only method of storage of fresh fruit products.
It was 1821 when a plants’ physiology scholar, Berard, found out that fruits stored at lower oxygen levels had a reduced methabolism. At the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the researchers Kidd and West, the concept of C.A. (Controlled Atmosphere) found a precise scientific definition, but it was only at the end of the ’50s that a real commercial application of C.A. took place both in Europe and in the U.S.A.
The combined action of a lower concentration of oxygen and a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the storage room considerably reduces respiratory activity.
The C.A., together with temperature reduction, acts deeper on the vegetables metabolism, for example, reducing ethylene production typical of fruits, blocking the chlorophyll degradation (green color), delaying pectin hydrolysis (pulp firmness), slowing the breakdown of vitamins and acids.