Reducing food waste is one of the most important challenges of the food chain, which struggles to become increasingly more resilient and sustainable. Every year 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted in the world. This represents a huge economic loss and a considerable environmental impact due to the waste of water and greenhouse gas emissions this generates.
"Up to 40% of all the fresh fruit produced is lost," stated Francisco Palma, the founder of the Chilean company PolyNatural. "That's why we have developed Shel-Life, a 100% natural coating that can extend the shelf life of fresh fruit to by 20 to 40%, depending on the fruit and the storage conditions."
Other coating alternatives in the market, which reduce dehydration and ripening of the fruit, contain synthetic compounds (in some cases derived from oil). Shel-Life, however, is only made with vegetable ingredients and has organic certifications in Chile and the United States, so it can be used to treat both conventional and organic fruits, Francisco points out. The product is used for apples, pears, citrus fruits in general, nectarines, plums, and avocados.
"Our solution is already being used by large exporting companies in Chile and Peru, with excellent results," the founder of the company stated. “We work with exporters and marketers of fresh fruit that have packaging lines where they can apply Shel-Life. We are also working with two supermarket chains that are interested in applying the product within their fresh fruit distribution centers to extend the shelf life of the fruit,” he said.
The company is already working on the international expansion of its solution. “In addition to marketing it in Chile, we have signed a distribution alliance in Peru with the Tecnología Química y Comercio SA company (TQC). This allows us to offer our product to exporting companies in Peru.”
"The United States is an interesting market where we have wanted to advance, as it has marketers, exporters, and retailers who could be interested in our product," Francisco stated. “In Europe, Spain is a very interesting market for us from the point of view of production, especially because of its citrus production. The Netherlands is also interesting as there are many companies there that supply fresh fruit to many supermarket chains. We're also interested in the supermarkets in Germany and the United Kingdom because they are the ones leading the trends regarding the use of this type of natural coatings,” he stated.