Koen Verhagen, Slowd

"Adsorbent granules slow fruit and vegetable ripening"

Fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs produce ethane, a natural gas, that helps them ripen. Bananas and avocados, in particular, release a lot of this gas. This can speed up the ripening process of other fruit and vegetable varieties. A Dutch company, Slowd, has developed a consumer product with adsorbent granules that will keep fruit and vegetables fresh for longer.

Slowd's adsorbent granules.

Slowing down the ripening process
The small sachets neutralise and adsorb the ethane. So says Slowd's owner, Koen Verhagen. This means fruit and vegetables can stay fresher for 2 - 2,5 times longer. Adsorbing is, however, not the same as absorbing, he points out. With absorption, a (liquid) substance is absorbed by something, like a sponge. Adsorption involves the adherence to another substance. "The 8x6 cm sachets can be used in the fridge and at room temperature", Slowd's owner explains. "The granules in these sachets last for 30 days. They ensure that the ripening process is slowed down. One product releases more ethane than another. Lettuce and herbs are very sensitive to this.

I recently had a packet of coriander of which I had used half, nine days after it's "best-by" date. Consumers pay a lot of money, about EUR 1,50 or EUR 2, for a packet of fresh herbs at the supermarket. This, while most recipes only call for half of that packet. Thanks to these adsorbent granules, these herbs will last longer."

Originated in New Zealand
Koen explains that the product was originally sold in New Zealand. These adsorbent granules are however used in bulk in this Southern Hemisphere country. "In New Zealand, these granules are used during transportation and storage of fruit and vegetables", he explains. "This extends the products' shelf-life. My partner and I, and two people from New Zealand set up this company, Slowd, based on that idea. So, two people work in New Zealand and my partner and I work in the Netherlands. We have weekly meetings via Skype. I have never even met one of my partners in New Zealand in person. This is now how businesses can be run."
Social aspect
According to Koen, one of the reasons the company was set up, was to reduce food wastage. "Every year, in the Netherlands, EUR 5 billion worth of food is thrown away", he continues. "We want to do something about this, but keeping the social aspect in mind. This is why the products are manufactured in a sheltered workshop. We also support the Food Bank. On the one hand, with Slowd you throw less food away and so save money. On the other hand, you support people who cannot afford to throw food away because they do not have enough of it."
Christmas presents
At the moment, these sachets are only available on Slowd's website. The company's network is, however, slowly expanding. "We are in discussions with wholesalers and other interested parties", says Koen. "We are also selling 1500 of them, wrapped in sustainable Christmas gift wrap for people to try. These sachets are already available at EUR2,49. Reducing food wastage is, of course, about people's mentality. Some people throw a lot of food away; others hardly any."
For more information:
PO Box 370
4560 AJ Hulst (Nederland)

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