Ryp Labs explains how their StixFresh stickers set out to extend the shelf life of fresh produce in the latest of our Sustainability Awards 2022 finalist interviews.



You’re a finalist in the Sustainability Awards 2022. Congratulations! To start off, could you summarise your entry, StixFresh, in less than 50 words?

Ryp Labs is the first company to extend the shelf-life of fresh produce by simply peeling and applying our StixFresh stickers to the produce or packaging material. Our food-safe labels comprise a patent-pending, natural formulation that is 100% safe, which activates in the vapor-phase to protect produce at a distance.

Why do you think the judges were impressed with your entry? Tell us about what is innovative about your project and/or about its impact on packaging sustainability.

We’re addressing a massive problem, with devastating economical, environmental and social consequences that is affecting every single person on the face of the planet today. Every minute we waste enough food to feed over 1 million people. That very same food waste will end up in landfills, releasing over 6,000 metric tons of CO2 into the air we breathe. This waste amounts to over $2.6 trillion in losses, including $700 and $900 billion in environmental and social costs, respectively, every year.

 This is due to the fact that we have an abhorrently inefficient food supply chain. Post-harvest losses of agricultural produce during storage, distribution, and retail, result in a significant portion of the economic and environmental burden. Post-harvest diseases (PHDs), such as fungal spoilage, are one of the major causes of post-harvest losses, resulting in estimated direct economic losses of more than $200 billion per year worldwide. PHDs affect the quality and reduce the shelf life of fresh produce. Many fungi causing PHDs have developed resistance to synthetic fungicides. Furthermore, importing countries have enforced strict regulations limiting the minimum pesticide residue levels present in the edible portion of the fresh produce. Additionally, consumers are gravitating towards non-GMO and organic fruits, which are typically even more susceptible to spoilage.

Given these compounding factors, there is a dire need to develop solutions that will not only extend the shelf life of fresh produce via a natural, safe and effective mode of action, but will also provide a cost-effective method that will seamlessly fit within the existing supply chain in order to drive mass market adoption. That is exactly what we did at Ryp Labs. At Ryp Labs, we’ve developed a natural and safe formulation that can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including stickers, labels, and sheets, to increase the shelf-life of produce. Our food-safe sticker, StixFresh, can double the shelf-life of fresh produce, by simply peeling and applying the sticker to loose produce such as pears or tomatoes. It can also be applied directly to the clamshells and other containers to protect smaller fruits such as berries and grapes from premature rotting.

Thus, this simple yet effective solution can be used at any point along the fresh produce supply chain including post-harvest handling, storage, processing, packaging, distribution, retail and the end-consumer stage. Our initial primary target customer segments are distributors and retailers of fresh high-value/short shelf-life fruits such as strawberries, cherries, grapes and avocados, and we’re already in pilots with Westfalia, the largest avocado grower in the world, Walmart and ALDI.

In conclusion, Ryp Labs’ technology has the potential and commercial viability to help farmers, governments, companies, and communities provide food sustainably, as well as tackle the issue of climate change. Our technology will firstly significantly reduce fresh food waste by extending shelf-life via an all-natural process, and secondly maintain the food’s freshness longer, thus allowing many communities (especially developing ones) to consume fresh, natural, organic foods they were not able to access previously. For example, in underdeveloped countries, our StixFresh stickers can provide a substantial, positive, economic benefit for small farmers and producers that don’t have the luxury of storing their produce in expensive, climate-controlled warehouses.

When and how do you intend to launch/commercialize this innovation?

Today, our technology is in the pilot study phase, with some of the largest household names in the industry including the likes of Walmart, ALDI, and Westfalia (largest avocado grower in the world). Through these pilot studies, we have successfully extended the shelf-life of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, peaches, oranges, avocados and more, by 50-100%. We are now preparing for in-store paid trials, targeting a commercial launch in October 2022.

You’re shortlisted for the Active & Intelligent (Pre-Commercialized) category. What do you see as the key demands, challenges and opportunities in relation to active and intelligent packaging?

With a focus on shelf-life extension, our analysis, which included over 40 customer interviews, has shown that the key demands for a viable active and intelligent packaging solution to get adopted are the following:

(1) Efficacy - How effective is the technology at extending the shelf-life

(2) Mode of Action - Does it extend the shelf-life by inhibiting the ripening process, inhibiting respiration/transpiration, or by tackling the post-harvest diseases

(3) Ease of Use - How difficult will it be to integrate the new solution into their existing supply chain, packaging system and standard operating procedures

(4) Downstream Quality - How does it impact the quality of the produce downstream, by the time it reaches the end-consumer

(5) Cost/Benefit - How much will the solution cost, how much will it save and how much profit will it add to the bottom line, i.e., what is the ROI

Secondary factors, such as a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution are also taken into consideration.

Winners will be announced at a special awards and networking dinner taking place the evening of the 14th of November during our ‘Innovation Horizon’ event. You can book tickets for the dinner and/or the conference, which reveals the cutting-edge sustainable packaging innovation that will be needed over the coming 5+ years, here: https://lnkd.in/eyUHXFm