Innovation: Edipeel prolongs fruit shelf life, reduces spoilage

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Innovation: Edipeel prolongs fruit shelf life, reduces spoilage

Extending fruit and vegetable shelf life through natural means is not easy, but a company based in Santa Barbara, California may have developed a solution. 

By forming a natural, edible and invisible barrier made from plant product waste that slows down spoilage, Apeel Sciences' claims its patented Edipeel product provides a useful alternative to the fungicides, waxes and chemical preservatives sometimes used in the industry.

Chief commercial officer Jason Spievak tells Fresh Fruit Portal Edipeel - made from extracts of grape skin, strawberry leaves and broccoli steams - helps fruits keep their flavor, nutritional properties and freshness intact.

He says while it's still not on the market, Edipeel will start to be used for select products through important U.S. producers this year. 

"Through the creation of an ultra-thin barrier that's completely indetectable on the product's exterior, Edipeel helps to maintain moisture inside, protecting it from the air and microbial activity, drastically improving the shelf life of fresh products," he says, adding the main causes of fruit deterioration were water loss and oxidization.

As the product is made up of foods we already eat, Spievak says the FDA has determined it as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).

"Edipeel can be made from any type of plant that grows on the earth, It can be developed through grape skins, orange skins, watermelon skins and more.

He says in some cases the product can keep products five times fresher, thus increasing the shelf life for commercialization and distribution, benefiting growers and consumers' available window for eating the fruit.

"Edipeel simply extends the healthy life of the products to slow down the rate of deterioration," he says, adding its efficacy has been shown in dozens of fresh produce items, including bananas, lemons, limes, mangoes, blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries, avocados and green beans. 

"It was proven with success in field trials and commercial applications in 2016, and will be used for growers and selected products in early 2017."

He says the company works together with local organic growers to acquire the plant materials to make the Edipeel formula.

"Natural deterioration is the main culprit in the global waste crisis," he says. 

"According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, between 30-50% of all cultivated foods never reach the market due to waste, which adds up to more than US$160 billion in nutritional foods lost every year just in the United States.

"Apart from the overwhelming loss of food, food waste also contributes to the mass loss of freshwater and energy resources."

These existential challenges partly explain why Apeel Sciences recently received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to further product development. Revolutionary breakthroughs in crop and produce protection make Apeel a natural partner for the Foundation's agricultural development program. 

The United Kingdom's Department for International Development also contributed funds for Apeel's research.



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