The best way to slow spoilage is to quickly remove field heat and to maintain the berries as close to 0°C as possible. The cold chain should be maintained by storing, distributing and marketing fruit at 0 to 1° C.
Any failure to maintain produce at low temperatures during handling, storage, and transportation will result in loss of quality and marketability. When the temperature of a strawberry is raised from 0 to 10°C, its deterioration rate increases two- to four-fold. This means that berries held at 20°C have only one-quarter to one-half the life expectancy of those held at 0°C. Market life will be reduced to only a few hours if strawberries are held near 30°C, as may occur in the field.
Precooling (rapid removal of field heat) of strawberries is essential within 1 hour of harvest. Cooling delays of 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours reduces marketability by 20, 37, 50, or 70%, respectively, after holding the fruit at 25°C (Mitchell et al., 1996).