Sustainability

Asda trialling fruit preservation technology

Fruit preservation company Apeel Sciences has announced that its edible fruit coating is being trialled in UK supermarket Asda.

The Californian company has developed a plant-derived coating that can be applied to fruit and vegetables, slowing the rate of spoilage and reducing food waste. The coating is made from lipids and glycerolipids that can be found in the peels, seeds and pulp of fruit and vegetables – Apeel uses the naturally occurring barriers to lock in moisture and reduce oxidation.

Apples at a fruit farm

The company says that this technology allows fruit and vegetables to stay fresh for two to three times longer, and does not affect the colour, taste or smell of the produce.

Apeel received regulatory approval from the European Commission in June, and is now running a limited-time trial in Asda supermarkets, where its technology will be used on mandarins supplied by La Calera Peru.

Nasir Ahmed, Produce Technical Manager at Asda, said: “We’re always looking at how we can reduce food waste right the way through our supply chain and into our customers’ homes.

“Increasing shelf life means our customers can enjoy fresher produce for longer, so we’re really excited about the potential of Apeel and I’m delighted Asda is a part of this trial.”

Gordon Robertson, Chief Revenue Officer at Apeel Sciences, added: “As a true innovator and sustainability leader, Asda is our first UK retail partner to demonstrate its commitment to fighting the global food waste crisis, starting with Apeel mandarins that stay fresh for much longer.

“This commercial test will be the next step in validating Apeel’s ability to make an impact on reducing food waste in stores and for consumers, with the goal of Apeel produce arriving on shelves at Asda and other retailers across Europe.”

The Apeel technology is distributed as a powder, which is then mixed with water at the packaging center and applied to the surface of the fruit. Apeel then forms a barrier on the skin or peel, enhancing the plants natural ability to protect against external stressors.

Food waste reduction technology

Apeel is not the only company to be using innovative technology to prolong the life of fruit and vegetables. UK packaging innovation company It’s Fresh! has developed a filter that absorbs and locks in ethylene, the ripening hormone in fresh produce, to slow down the ripening process and extend the life and quality of fruit.

It’s Fresh! has recently signed an agreement with the Ecuadorian banana association, ACORBANEC, to promote the use of the filters throughout the banana industry in Ecuador. The It’s Fresh! filters are currently being used by supermarket Morrisons, and are engaged in over 50 active trials across 20 countries.

Fighting food waste

With 10 million tonnes of food wasted annually, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), technology such as this could be a crucial means of cutting down on the amount of food we throw away.

Asda has previously shown commitment to fighting food waste – its ‘Beautiful on the Inside’ range saw the supermarket sell a selection of ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables in a bid to reduce the amount of produce thrown away due to strict aesthetic standards.

Last June, food waste charity Feedback released a ranking of the top 10 UK supermarkets, revealing that Tesco had been the most successful at reducing its food waste.

The Resources and Waste Strategy, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in December, highlighted the government’s ambitions to tackle food waste, with a pledge to introduce separate food waste collections to every household in England by 2023 and to eliminate food waste to landfill by 2030.

You can find out more about Apeel on the company’s website.