Ready to eat and prepared fruit and vegetables are widely available whether for food service or direct to consumers. One fruit however is missing. The avocado. The avocado is notoriously difficult to keep from browning so it is not included in the ready to eat ranges.
Agricultural scientist and consultant Willem Landman has been working to change that.
It all started 20 years ago when Willem had the idea of processing avocados in a certain way to stop them browning. “The moment I discovered the way to stop Avocado browning, it was like finding gold. It has been always my passion to find out how nature works and how we can benefit from it.” His idea did work but didn’t really go much further at that point.
Years later when Willem moved from South Africa to Australia he started thinking about it again and decided to follow his dream and take it further.
12 day old cut avocado: 12 day old avocado and shrimp salad
“I built another prototype on my veranda, made samples and contacted the Patents Office, I was proud of how I could preserve the freshness of Avocado and patent the process. I also found partners in Hong Kong who were interested in the process. Unfortunately nothing happened with it as the process I invented was quite complicated and required substantial capital investment.
“Six months ago I started rethinking it again. My passion to bring this wonderful idea to the world has not stopped as I continue to explore other ideas to bring back what I believe was true to my heart - my dream to make a difference. To other people, stopping an avocado from browning is impossible but to me, I can create magic with new ideas.
"I am a plant pathologist and applied a lot of the principles that I had learned in plant pathology and microbiology. I came up with a new idea. I made use of what is referred to as hurdle technology in food microbiology. In the industry various hurdles are put in place to prevent food from spoiling.
"I use a few different hurdles to prevent browning on the cut surface of the processed avocado. One critical one which I do not disclose to anyone is what makes the process work. To reduce browning you need to also manage the ripening of the fruit, as this will enable the fruit to reach the perfect ripeness to give optimal taste and shelf life.
"After years of working on perfecting the anti-browning process, I have come up with the most promising way to share my work.
Image: top - 25 day old avocado, bottom 1 day old avocado
“If I can get a patent for this it will be great but ultimately I would like to get it commercialised.” I place the processed halves in a vacuum bag to extended shelf life further and so that the product can be displayed on the supermarket shelves. I know that there are already various products like frozen avocado or avocado pulp in the market but nothing that offers fresh avocado with 3-4 days shelf life. I am trying to get it commercialised and I think this time it is more achievable, if I can use avocados which are ripe and ready to eat and put a fork or spoon in with it, I think I can generate consumer interest."
According to Willem there is not much of a change in taste, “I ate one (photo) which was 25 days old and it was fine with very little change in taste, considering it was 25 days old”.
“If I can get funding, I am happy to go into partnership, I am a dreamer and a scientist not a money man, We all have a roll to play in sociality, that is how we can grow as a human race.
"One other reason why I would like for this to be successful is to really focus on agricultural sustainability. The more value we can add whilst reducing waste, both on farm, retail space and at the consumer, the better we can adsorb rising input cost and marginalising of agriculture. I would like to do my part in ensuring a bright future for generations to come and to have a positive impact on the environment."
For more information:
Willem Landman Consulting Ltd