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Asda to use bio-based coating for fruit to tackle food waste.

“We’re always looking at how we can reduce food waste right the way through our supply chain and into our customers’ homes.”

UK retailer Asda is selling clementines covered in a coating developed to significantly extend the shelf life of fresh produce. The plant-derived, water-based coating could “drastically reduce” food waste and allow stores to scale back on plastic packaging, according to the supermarket giant.

The coating was created by California-based food technology firm Apeel Sciences. The company said that its coating is called Apeel and is made of plant-derived materials — lipids and glycerolipids — that exist in the peels, seeds, and pulp of all the fruits and vegetables we already eat.

The company claims the solution is capable of doubling or even tripling the shelf life of a variety of fresh produce, which in turn can reduce food waste on farms, in shops and in consumers’ homes.

Asda has treated a shipment of clementines with Apeel that it is selling in two of its stores – in Chatham, north Kent, and Glasshoughton, West Yorkshire, in a trial. It is the first time the treatment, which was granted approval for use by the EU Commission in June, has been tested in the UK.

Apeel is colourless, odourless and has no taste when applied to food, Apeel Sciences said in a statement. Brands or retailers who use Apeel can apply it to the outside of fruits and vegetables by mixing it with water and spraying or brushing it on or dipping the items it. This coat aims to slow the rate of water loss and keep oxygen from getting in.

As Asda’s trial is limited to clementines, the treated peel will be discarded by shoppers, but the solution can be applied to other produce without a protective skin. Consumers are not required to rinse the treatment off – instead, Apeel recommends they eat the produce as is.

“We’re always looking at how we can reduce food waste right the way through our supply chain and into our customers’ homes. Increasing shelf life means our customers can enjoy fresher produce for longer, so we’re really excited about the potential of Apeel,” Nasir Ahmed, technical manager of produce at Asda, said.

The trial will test how Apeel performs throughout the entire supply chain and what impact it has on shelf life. In a statement, Asda said it has closely monitored the produce since the coating was applied at the growers’ site in South America and that it is also testing samples to determine the speed at which the fruit spoils in warmer and cooler temperatures.

“As a true innovator and sustainability leader, Asda is our first UK retail partner to demonstrate its commitment to fighting the global food waste crisis, starting with Apeel mandarins that stay fresh much longer,” said Gordon Robertson, chief revenue officer at Apeel Sciences.

He added: “This commercial test will be the next step in validating Apeel’s ability to make an impact on reducing food waste in stores and for consumers, with the goal of Apeel produce arriving on shelves at more Asda stores and other retailers across Europe.”

In addition to helping curb food waste, the treatment has the potential to help aid retailers in reducing the amount of packaging that is required to prolong shelf life.

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Read: 5 Minutes with… Paul Mines of Biome Bioplastics.

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