Approximately 480 million Euro worth of fruit and vegetables in bad condition are thrown away in Spain every year, although it is just a matter of time before this is reduced thanks to solutions such as KeepFresh, a single sheet of paper 0manufactured in various formats and adapted to the market's standards in packaging, intended for wholesalers, shipping carriers, importers and fruit, vegetable and flower cooperatives.
It consists of sheets made of two layers of paper suitable for food handling with an ethylene-absorbing part. Each sheet is divided in a variable number of cells, depending on the size and format requested by the client, with the goal of covering 99% of the surface of the box, in full contact with the fruit or vegetable.
"This way you obtain results is not easily achieved by other ethylene absorbers, as it works directly on the spots where ethylene is being generated," affirms Juan Luis Pedro, inventor of KeepFresh and director of the Research and Development Department. "Wounded fruit normally produces mold that quickly spreads to the rest, but this does not happen with KeepFresh."
This product offers a wide range of advantages, as it protects fruit and vegetables and prevents complaints at destination. "We have been working for two years with Almeria's producers and we can confirm that shipments to faraway destinations, such as Russia, arrived in optimal conditions, allowing buyers to enjoy the quality of the fruit they purchased and preventing complaints in 100% of cases," affirms Juan Luis. "For this reason, some firms already demand the use of this product as a prerequisite!"
"The problem is not that a fruit or vegetable has a longer or shorter shelf life, but that on arrival to their destination, because they are stored next to many other products, they are exposed to a great number of ethylene sources which can cause over-ripening. The same happens at home, as our fridges are full of vegetables that produce ethylene."
The amount of ethylene absorber within the KeepFresh sheets changes depending on the product, its weight and the shipping distance. "We have a product that tailors to all uses, intended for clients to buy what they need depending on their products' value added and their needs. For example, we would not sell the same KeepFresh to a Canarian banana exporter and to a Peruvian plantain exporter. These transparency ideals have taken us where we are."
KeepFresh currently has its main domestic markets in the area of the eastern coast (Murcia, Alicante and Valencia), Andalusia and Extremadura; this year, coinciding with its 10th anniversary, the firm has opened a delegation in Peru, KeepFresh Américas, which will allow for the distribution of the product in all of Latin America. "I am fully satisfied and proud of the professional team we have in Peru. Their great work is reason enough to celebrate our 10th anniversary," affirms Juan Luis Pedro.
KeepFresh was founded by Juan Luis Pedro ten years ago with the goal of improving something that already existed.
"After years working in a firm, it went out of business and I was left unemployed. It was then when I had time to think in ways to improve ethylene absorption, as well as on finding ways for a more correct use. I started working with a heat sealer until I managed to build my first machine, which produced 840 sheets per hour. Nowadays our machines can produce up to 12,000 sheets per hour," he explains.
"The fact that everything in KeepFresh, the materials, electrical installation, engineering and machinery are made by us allows us to depend exclusively on ourselves and control the entire process in a more efficient manner."
"Our goal in the medium term is to introduce the product in supermarkets so that clients can purchase fruit and vegetables in the best conditions, although KeepFresh is also ideal for use at home, for which we are searching for partners willing to help introduce our product in supermarkets."