Sustainability

UK technology to reduce banana waste makes its way to Ecuador

UK food technology company It’s Fresh! has signed an agreement with the Ecuadorian banana association, ACORBANEC, to increase the uptake of its food waste reduction technology in Ecuador's banana industry.

Bananas with the It's Fresh! Filters

The It’s Fresh! filters use innovative technology, including the key ingredient ‘e+ active’, to absorb and lock in ethylene, the ripening hormone in fresh produce. This allows the ‘green life’ of bananas to be prolonged, preventing the fruit from going off in transit.

The preservation of the green life of bananas is of huge importance to Ecuadorian exporters, as industry standards require bananas to remain green for the entire shipment and distribution process, meaning that any fruit will be thrown out if it ripens in transit.

The company’s partnership with the Ecuadorian banana association, ACORBANEC, will see the establishment of the technology throughout the Ecuadorian banana industry, with the filters set to be introduced to 28 affiliate growers and exporters in the region.

Representatives from It’s Fresh! will travel with ACORBANEC around the Ecuadorian regions of Guayaquil and Machala to present the technology to associates, company owners and other exporters in the region. It’s Fresh! will also offer free training programmes on the benefits of ethylene control.

Research conducted by Dr Manual Madrid, Managing Director of fresh produce advisory Fruit Profits, revealed that the use of It’s Fresh! filters doubled banana green life to an average of more than 70 days when used in a modified atmosphere.

Although the filters work best when used in conjunction with modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), the technology is able to absorb ethylene in any environment, meaning that the filters could be placed with unpackaged bananas to reduce waste from plastic packaging.

Commenting on the importance of preserving green life, ACORBANEC Executive Director Richard Salazar said: “Extending the green life of bananas is vital – not just for business but also for addressing the global food waste crisis. We think the It’s Fresh! Technology could be a real game changer for our affiliates and look forward to introducing them in the coming months.”

It’s Fresh! Director of Latin America Nicolas Duran added: “This partnership marks a new chapter for It’s Fresh! and is part of our ongoing commitment to reducing food waste globally.

“We work hard to collaborate with key stakeholders in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry worldwide, and by working with ACORBANEC we will be able to introduce our technology to countless more exporters and growers in Ecuador which is such a key region for the banana trade.”

Bananas are currently the world’s most exported fruit, with Ecuador as the leading exporter, delivering $3 billion (£2.4 billion) worth of bananas to 71 countries worldwide in 2017. According to ACORBANEC data, until March of this year, Ecuador’s main market has been the EU, receiving 29 per cent of its exports.

Technology such as that developed by It’s Fresh! could play a role in the fight to prevent food waste in UK by keeping fruit fresh for longer. In the UK, 10 million tonnes of food is wasted annually, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The Resources and Waste Strategy, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in December, outlined the government’s commitment to tackling the food waste crisis, with a pledge to eliminate all food waste to landfill by 2030.

With the It’s Fresh!’s filters currently being used by UK supermarket Morrisons and engaged in over 50 active trials across 20 countries, the technology has been proven to extend the life and quality of fruit by two to four days, helping retailers to both increase profits and significantly reduce the amount of fruit thrown away.

You can find out more about It’s Fresh! on the company’s website

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