Avocados With Edible Freshness Coating Are Now Sold in Europe

New Technology allows fruits to stay ripe twice as long

Dec 24, 2019

Having fresh fruits and veggies to eat is heavenly. But unless you live on a farm, by the time you purchase your produce, there isn't much time before spoilage sets in. Now, avocados can stay ripe for twice as long thanks to an edible coating on their skin.

The treated fruit went on the shelves the week of December 15 in Europe for the first time according to The Guardian. Large chains in Germany and Denmark are stocking the avocados in the hopes of reducing food waste.

Over 1.9 million tons of food is wasted every year by the food industry in the UK. This staggering number doesn't even take into account food that is purchased and goes bad at home before it can be used. It is estimated that 40 percent of the food grown goes to waste.

Now, a spray on coating made by the agri-tech startup Apeel Sciences adds a layer of plant-derived protection to fresh produce to slow both water loss and oxidation – the two factors that cause fruits and vegetables to spoil.

Apeel Sciences was founded in 2012 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce food waste in developing countries that do not have access to refrigeration. The special coasting has been used commercially in the US since its rollout in September 2019 when the mega sized grocery retailer Kroger started selling treated avocados according to Cnet News.

The company – based in Goleta, California – developed formulas for about 50 different types of fruits and vegetables including apples, bananas, blueberries, tomatoes, and of course, avocados which was chosen due to their short shelf life, high cost, and their immense popularity as a superfood.

“We’re creating an optimized microclimate that can double the shelf life [of the produce],” James Rogers, the chief executive of Apeel Sciences told The Guardian. “The average avocado might be ripe for two to three days. Ours will stay ripe for four to six days.”

Companies that sell the treated fruit in the US showed a greater than 50 percent reduction in food waste on the retail level according to FreshPlaza. This data is what convinced the EU to approve its use

Companies that sell the treated fruit in the US showed a greater than 50 percent reduction in food waste on the retail level according to FreshPlaza. This data is what convinced  the European Commission in June 2019 to approve its use in June 2019.

European chains including EDEKA and Netto in Germany, and Salling Group stores Føtex and Bilka in Denmark are being supplied by nature's Pride, Apeel's supply partner in Europe.

Apeel products are being tested in the UK by Asda and the supermarket chain is expected to launch consumer trials in 20120 according to The Guardian. This could go a long way to reduce food waste in the UK.

Natural products that can increase the shelf-life of produce will go along way towards reducing global emissions and halting climate change since agriculture is a major greenhouse gas producer.  Less waste means that less food has to be grown and lower emissions.

Another bonus of less waste is that more people can be fed with less land use and with the UN's population figures of none million people in 2050, we need all the help we can get in increasing food grown sustainably. Agri-tech companies like Apeel Sciences will surely help in feeding a hungry world.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.