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Roughly one third of food -about 1.3 billion tonnes- is lost or wasted

Combating food waste with a sticker

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly one third of the food produced globally for human consumption every year — about 1.3 billion tonnes — is lost or wasted. Fruit and vegetables, as well as roots and tubers, have the highest wastage rates of any foods at 40% to 50%.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the world’s production of apples alone stood at 68.7 million tonnes in 2018/19 while that of pears and table grapes came in at 19.4 million tonnes and 22.1 million tonnes respectively.

However, there is an international patent pending for StixFresh’s technology, a Sirim certification following a material toxicity test and GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) certification from the US Food and Drug Administration

The product is a sticker, the size of a coin, coated with a composite of sodium chloride, beeswax and natural ingredients that can prolong the shelf life of fruit up to 14 days without affecting the nutritional value. The sticker, when applied to mid-sized fruit, dispenses the compound on the fruit and slows its degeneration.

It has been a year since StixFresh International Sdn Bhd embarked on refining and selling its post-harvest sticker technology. It is starting to make waves internationally, thanks to the opening of StixFresh USA, which has proved to be a bridge to other countries.

The compound that StixFresh inventor Zhafri Zainuddin discovered is made of sodium chloride. The composite was mixed with some natural ingredients and blended it with beeswax to be applied on a sticker that slowly dispenses the compound on the fruit it is adhered to, prolonging the shelf life of the fruit by up to 14 days without affecting its nutritional value.

The sticker was initially designed to be used on mid-sized fruit such as apples, oranges, mangoes, dragon fruit and papayas. Now, the company is doing R&D to expand its product range so that it can cater for smaller fruit and other products with a shelf life such as vegetables, meat, milk and flowers. “We have improved the stickers so they can be used on avocados, but we are still developing the formulation for rock melons,” says Zhafri.

StixFresh currently has a team in Belgium, led by Dr Patrick Van Dijck of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, analysing the compound to develop a fruit-specific formulation. Locally, the company is working with food technologists, Associate Prof Dr Noranizan Mohd Adzahan and Dr Noor Liyana Yusof of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Food Science and Technology.

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