Sufresca, Ltd. says it has optimised its invisible edible coating designed to extend the shelf life of fresh produce and will be introducing slightly differentiated solutions to suit a wider range of fruit and vegetables.

According to the company, the edible, water-based emulsion is composed of natural food ingredients and inbuilt with advanced modified atmosphere properties. The solution can reportedly be applied to fresh fruit and vegetables to create a breathable coating, with minute disruptions within the coatings acting as a partial barrier that allows for optimal gas exchange.

Efrat Boker-Ferri, CEO of Sufresca, explains: “The chaotic structure of our coating was inspired by the cuticle structures that naturally layer plants to protect them from extreme environmental conditions and from water loss.”

Therefore, the barrier slows down post-harvest maturation and ripening, as well as inhibiting degradation and decay. Surfresca claims that this can extend shelf life by several weeks, while saving plastic packaging and extending shipment time.

The company is seeking to address the issue of food waste with its coating. Surfresca claims that 40-60% of fruit and vegetables produced worldwide are lost or wasted before reaching consumers due to spoilage.

Surfresca initially achieved its first proof-of-concept for peppers, which is says are highly perishable and known to be sensitive to weight loss. The challenge for finding a comprehensive formula for a range of fresh produces was “the diverse botanical nature of vegetables and fruits”.

Professor Amos Nussinovitch, CSO of Surfresca, comments: “Each vegetable has its own unique traits.

“In our search for the common denominator that connects the plant kingdom, these physiological distinctions had to be addressed.”

In 2020, the company claims to have reached a “breakthrough” by optimising the proprietary solution to be application to different types of cucumber, mango, and avocado, among others. This reportedly includes minute changes in the composition.

Boker-Ferri concludes: “Retailers and packaging houses are seeking cost-effective solutions to reduce waste and are kind to the planet.

“Our natural formula can be easily integrated into existing industry equipment, is adaptable to the various coating techniques and is completely safe to use.

“While we do offer a range of support services and guidance, our system is very straightforward to implement, eliminating the need for Sufresca personnel to be on site, increasing its affordability.”

The French Government’s recent announcement that it would ban fruit and vegetables from being sold in plastic packaging has led to discussions about the relationship between food waste and packaging. Speaking to Packaging Europe, Robert Lilienfeld from SPRING warned that a blanket ban on plastic packaging may have negative consequences, such as additional food waste and thus increasing the carbon footprint of produce.

Solutions such as Sufresca’s could help companies, governments, and consumers to balance product preservation with sustainability.