Supermarket Asda is to trial an innovative new technology by Apeel Sciences that could drastically reduce food waste and potentially reduce the use of plastic packaging in future.
Apeel is a plant-derived, water-based coating that gives produce a little extra “peel” that slows the rate of spoilage, and it’s made of materials that exist in the peels, seeds, and pulp of all the fruits and vegetables we already eat. It can double to triple the shelf life of many types of fresh produce, which reduces food waste from farm to retail shelf to customers’ homes.
Asda is this week trialling the solution in two stores, Chatham in Kent and Glasshoughton in Yorkshire, on a shipment of Asda Clementines. It’s the first time that this technology has been tested in the UK, after it was granted approval for use by the EU Commission in June.
“We’re always looking at how we can reduce food waste right the way through our supply chain and into our customers’ homes. Increasing shelf life means our customers can enjoy fresher produce for longer, so we’re really excited about the potential of Apeel and I’m delighted Asda is part of this trial," said Nasir Ahmed, Produce Technical Manager at Asda.
“As a true innovator and sustainability leader, Asda is our first UK retail partner to demonstrate its commitment to fighting the global food waste crisis, starting with Apeel mandarins that stay fresh much longer,” said Gordon Robertson, Chief Revenue Officer at Apeel Sciences. “This commercial test will be the next step in validating Apeel’s ability to make an impact on reducing food waste in stores and for consumers, with the goal of Apeel produce arriving on shelves at more Asda stores and other retailers across Europe.”
The initial trial will test how Apeel performs throughout the entire supply chain and what impact it has on shelf life. A close eye has been kept on the product from the extra peel being applied at the growers’ site in South America and Asda has taken samples to test how it performs under a variety of different scenarios and conditions, such as if it’s not kept in the fridge at home, or if the temperature in the store is warmer or cooler than usual.
There could also be additional benefits from the Apeel solution, should the trial prove successful. Because the extra peel protects the fruit from spoilage for longer, there is a lower need for pesticides and other post-harvest treatments to be used.
It could also reduce the amount of packaging that is required to prolong shelf life. For example, while Apeel is not currently available for use on all peels, Asda has been conducting some behind-closed-doors tests on how it performs on cucumbers. The results have been really promising, seeing shelf lives increasing even on cucumbers left unwrapped.