British supermarke Asda is trialing Apeel Sciences' plant-derived, shelf-life-boosting coating on fresh produce in a bid to reduce waste.
The Walmart-owner retailer said the technology could "drastically" reduce food waste and potentially reduce the use of plastic packaging.
Apeel Sciences has developed a plant-derived, water-based coating that slows the rate of spoilage. It can double to triple the shelf life of many types of fresh produce, according to Apeel.
Asda is this week trialing the solution in two stores, Chatham in Kent and Glasshoughton in Yorkshire, on a shipment of clementines.
It’s the first time that this technology has been tested in the UK, after it was granted approval for use by the EU Commission in June.
“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.
“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.”
Nasir Ahmed, produce technical manager at Asda, said: "Increasing shelf life means our customers can enjoy fresher produce for longer, so we’re really excited about the potential of Apeel and I’m delighted Asda is part of this trial."
The initial trial will test how Apeel performs throughout the entire supply chain and what impact it has on shelf life.
A close eye has been kept on the product from the extra peel being applied at the growers’ site in South America and Asda has taken samples to test how it performs under a variety of different scenarios and conditions.
There could also be additional benefits from the Apeel solution, should the trial prove successful. Because the extra peel protects the fruit from spoilage for longer, there is a lower need for pesticides.
It could also reduce the amount of packaging that is required to prolong shelf life; Asda has been conducting some behind-closed-doors tests on how it performs on cucumbers. The results have been really "promising", seeing shelf lives increasing even on cucumbers left unwrapped.