KANSAS CITY - Demand for shelf life-extending products for fresh produce continues to climb, and companies that specialize in those technologies are continuing to roll out new products for products sold in supermarkets. 

“For grocery retailers, reducing food waste while providing the highest quality products is paramount,” said Scott Bergeron, business development manager for Westport, Conn.-based NatureSeal Inc. “NatureSeal not only reduces waste at the store level — customers notice and appreciate the added shelf life in their refrigerators.”

Two retail grocery fresh produce products that have benefited most recently from shelf life-extending solutions are sliced bananas and guacamole, Bergeron said. 

NatureSeal can prevent sliced bananas from browning for up to 10 days. NatureSeal has also recently developed a novel product to extend the color and fresh taste of guacamole, even when removed from its packaging.

The early success in finding shelf life-extending solutions for sliced apples propelled NatureSeal into other product categories. Next up were items like party trays with carrots, celery, and radishes, followed by fruit trays with pears and stone fruit. 

“Options for the customer became the driving force, and regional items began to flourish, like sliced avocado or green peanuts,” Bergeron said.

NatureSeal products now help maintain the taste, texture, and color of over 30 fresh-cut produce items, including new products for berries, cut potatoes and avocados, in addition to the new banana and guacamole products.

NatureSeal is able to continue to roll out new products as retail demand changes, Bergeron said, thanks to a state-of-the-art R&D facility that provides complimentary in-house research and validation studies for specific customer application questions and continuous product innovation.

Acquisition gives Apeel new shelf life-extending tool 

A recent acquisition will give Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Apeel a new way to help its customers extend the shelf life of their fresh fruits and vegetables. 

ImpactVision will be integrated into Apeel application systems at supplier locations around the world, according to Apeel. ImpactVision’s technology enables suppliers to see inside and understand the interior quality of fresh produce by collecting quantifiable data on stage of ripeness, freshness, nutritional density, and other indicators of quality. 

It’s Apeel’s first acquisition and, according to the company, a major step toward quantifying and digitizing produce quality data, with the goal of democratizing new information for the benefit of Apeel’s partners and the global food system as a whole.

“Our journey began with Apeel’s plant-based protection — an invisible ‘peel’ that addresses the challenge of global food waste by bringing more time to fresh produce before it spoils. Now, we’re expanding our technology to bring to light the previously invisible characteristics of produce, including internal quality, phytonutrient content, and environmental impact,” said James Rogers, Apeel’s CEO.  “Using the insights enabled by Apeel’s imaging technology, our partners will effectively be able to ‘see’ inside of every fruit and vegetable, quantifying quality as never before, so that the distribution of fresh food can be optimized.”

For Apeel’s customers, Rogers added, adding ImpactVision means less waste and an immediate bottom-line improvement, and ultimately, the ability to one day differentiate produce by making freshness and nutritional content visible to the consumer.

Apeel’s plant-based protection that doubles the shelf life of produce is currently applied to fruits and vegetables via application systems throughout packing houses and distribution centers across North America, South America and Europe. 

The new technology will be added to these systems to collect data-rich images as produce travels along packing house conveyance lines. Acquired images will then be processed through machine learning models that can identify unique visual cues that relate to freshness, degree of maturity, phytonutrient content, and other aspects of fruit quality.

"ImpactVision's technology can predict internal quality of food products from hyperspectral images. When this ability to 'see beyond the borders of human vision' is combined with Apeel's shelf-life extension technology, the potential to fundamentally transform produce supply chains to reduce post-harvest loss, optimize distribution and lengthen shelf-life is enormous,” said Abi Ramanan, founder of ImpactVision.

With Apeel’s continued expansion into new produce categories and geographies, the company is poised to capture category-wide datasets across a previously fractured and data-poor landscape, which in turn will help shape new efficiencies and benefits that span across global fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains, according to Apeel. 

AgroFresh launches two shelf life-extending products 

Philadelphia-based AgroFresh Solutions rolled out two products in the spring that will help its customers extend the shelf life of their fresh produce products. 

In May AgroFresh announced the release of SmartCitrus, a new platform directed to the citrus industry to maintain freshness and reduce food loss and waste. The platform integrates a comprehensive range of post-harvest solutions into an all-encompassing treatment for citrus products, all under one easy-to-use AgroFresh umbrella. 

With SmartCitrus, AgroFresh can positively impact virtually all aspects of the packinghouse operation from the time citrus crops arrive at the facility to when they are packed and shipped for consumer enjoyment, according to the company. 

The platform is powered by the equipment portfolio of Control -Tec post-harvest technologies for end-to-end use on packing lines, degreening and in storage rooms, including enhanced treatment water management and savings. Control-Tec equipment is integrated into the FreshCloud digital platform to enhance decision-making with rapid, easy data access for operations teams. 

SmartCitrus deploys a wide range of solutions, including broad-spectrum liquid fungicides such as ActiSeal, Scholar and Tecto 500 SC; FreshStart disinfectants, and VitaFresh Botanicals plant-based edible coatings — the other recent release from AgroFresh. 

“Since Tecnidex became part of the AgroFresh family, we combined forces, created synergies and connected innovation efforts - because in agriculture and supply chain management, solutions, experience, service and integration matter,” said Clint Lewis, CEO of AgroFresh. “SmartCitrus represents AgroFresh’s ability to deliver all four in a way that is seamless for our customers. We’re building on those achievements by strengthening our customer-focused capabilities and bringing new products and technologies into the market.” 

“The launch of SmartCitrus and the unification of our products under the AgroFresh corporate umbrella is an important and critical next step for AgroFresh,” said Julian Herraiz, general manager, Spain, for AgroFresh. “The AgroFresh brand name and entire organization are synonymous with quality produce solutions, and unifying under one consolidated brand banner will simplify how we work with our customers and help us all build a bigger and more successful organization.”

VitaFresh Botanicals – Life Ultra, the other new AgroFresh shelf life-extending product, was announced in April. 

Life Ultra, a plant-based, edible coating to keep produce fresh and reduce food loss and waste, uses a nano emulsion process to generate smaller particles for superior coating coverage and fruit protection. The nano emulsion technology was developed by Embrapa Instrumentation (part of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), UFSCar (the Federal University of São Carlos – Brazil) and QGP Química. 

Life Ultra acts as a protective membrane to reduce dehydration, providing excellent freshness preservation and food loss reduction for citrus and tropical fruits such as avocados, papayas and mangoes. Fruit coated with VitaFresh Botanicals - Life Ultra can be dried quickly, generating a sustainability benefit of decreased energy usage and lower-cost operational efficiencies. 

“We are delighted to join forces with QGP Química for the global launch of this new VitaFresh Botanicals coating,” said AgroFresh CEO Clint Lewis. “Life Ultra is an important part of the VitaFresh Botanicals portfolio and continues AgroFresh’s decades-long commitment to AgTech innovation and food loss reduction. We are excited about how this plant-based solution opens consumer marketing opportunities for the packer-retailer supply chain.”

“The nano emulsion and overall technology process utilized to produce VitaFresh Botanicals - Life Ultra yields an outstanding solution for produce freshness,” said Marilene Ribeiro, R&D manager for chemical specialties at QGP Química. “Our collaboration with AgroFresh will help bring this solution to operators worldwide and can have a significant impact on the produce industry’s sustainability efforts.”