Avocado lifeline: an edible coating that doubles the time fruit remains ripe

Not only does it reduce food waste, but the technology can be applied to other produce like strawberries, mangoes, apples, bananas, kumquats and asparagus.

21 June 2018
food wastefruittechnologyvegetables

Here’s something that is going to make avocado-loving millennials happy.

A Californian company, Apeel Sciences, has created an edible coating for avocados that helps them to stay ripe for twice as long – and they are going on sale in US supermarkets for the first time.

While the average avocado might be ripe for two to three days, the ones with the barrier will stay ripe for four to six days.

But there’s more good news. Not only is the coating made from food waste, but in the future there are plans to modify it for use on strawberries, mangoes, apples, bananas, kumquats and asparagus.

It could be coming to the UK too. Apeel Sciences tells Food Spark they are currently working with partners in the UK to bring the technology over the pond.

Prime produce

So why the focus on avocados first?

“Everyone loves avocados, but spoilage is a major challenge and avocado quality can vary greatly based on where you live in the country,” a spokesperson for Apeel Sciences says.

“You never really know what you're getting until you cut into your avocado at home – and it's so frustrating to have to throw away a bad avocado. So, we thought this would be a good place to start.”

Consumers won't have to worry about the barrier impacting on the taste of the avocado either.

The coating is tasteless and works by controlling the two primary causes for fresh produce to go bad: the rate at which water escapes the surface of fruit and vegetables, and the rate at which oxygen enters.

It’s made from the naturally occurring lipids, which are extracted from fruit or vegetable waste like tomatoes and grapes. The lipids are turned into a powder that can be revived with water to create a dip or spray.

A good cause

Apeel Sciences says the barrier is important for keeping produce in good condition during transportation, as well as creating less waste for both supermarkets and the consumer.

“For suppliers and retailers, Apeel is the only plant-derived post-harvest solution that creates an optimal micro-climate inside of every piece of produce, which leads to improved quality, extended shelf life, and transportability – without requiring refrigeration, controlled atmosphere, or preservatives,” the company adds.

The avocados will be available in Costco and Harp Food stores this week across the Midwest, before rolling out across the US.

The company also has backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has been working on a project to help extend the life of produce in developing countries, with pilots in Nigeria and Kenya carried out on cassava root and mangoes.

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