Asda is trialling a new plant-based coating for fruit and vegetables that it believes could drastically reduce food waste and potentially cut the need for plastic packaging in future.
The retailer is trialling the technology in two stores, Chatham in Kent and Glasshoughton in Yorkshire, on a shipment of clementines.
The coating was developed by California-based Apeel Sciences and is plant-derived and water-based, providing an extra “peel” that slows the rate of spoilage.
“It’s made of materials that exist in the peels, seeds, and pulp of all the fruits and vegetables we already eat,” said Asda.
“It can double to triple the shelf life of many types of fresh produce, which reduces food waste from farm to retail shelf to customers’ homes.”
Apeel says it 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.
The trial aims to test how Apeel performs throughout the entire supply chain and how it affects the shelf life of fruit and vegetables.
The clementines are being monitored from the moment the extra peel is applied at the growers’ site in South America.
Asda has taken samples to test how the fruit performs under different scenarios and conditions, such not being kept in the fridge at home or under warmer or cooler temperatures than usual.
If the trial is successful Asda believes the extra “peel” will reduce the need for pesticides and other post-harvest treatments and could also reduce the amount of packaging that is required to prolong shelf life.
It is also testing how well Apeel performs on cucumbers and says the results have been promising, leading to increased shelf lives even on unwrapped cucumbers.
Apeel claims that it helps produce stay fresh for longer by reducing exposure to oxygen and keeping moisture in.
The mixture is applied either by rinsing or dipping and while it can be removed along with some peels it cannot be rinsed off.
However the company says that the product is safe to eat and recommend consumers simply eat the produce with the Apeel still on.
It says that Apeel-treated avocados are now available in the US and claims it is effective at improving the quality and shelf life of more than two dozen types of fruits and vegetables.
Nasir Ahmed, produce technical manager at Asda, said: “We’re always looking at how we can reduce food waste right the way through our supply chain and into our customers’ homes.”
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