- Published on Friday, 17 February 2012 01:00
UK – British retailer Tesco has started trials of a new packaging technology that promises to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce and reduce food waste.
Developed by UK company It’s Fresh Ltd – part of the Food Freshness Technology (FFT) group of companies, the new technology is a patented 8cm by 4.5cm packaging strip that contains a mixture of high-tech minerals and clay that absorbs ethylene, a hormone that causes fruit to ripen and turn mouldy.
It’s Fresh Ltd claims that the strips are 100 times more effective than any other similar existing materials. In addition, they do not affect the recyclability of plastic packaging.
Tesco is testing the technology in packs of tomatoes and avocados, and estimates that the simple strip could potentially cut waste equivalent to 1.6 million packs of tomatoes and 350,000 packs of avocados annually.
Steve Deeble, Tesco’s ambient salad and avocado technologist called the new packaging technology “a major breakthrough in the fight to combat food waste (that) could save the fresh produce industry tens of millions of pounds each year”.
“But it will also mean that shoppers will be able to keep fruit and vegetables for longer without feeling pressured to eat them within days of buying them,” added Deeble.
“We have already trialled the packaging in a storage environment and all the signs are that this could be one of the most significant developments in packaging for many years so now we want to know what our customers think of it.”
Should the trials prove to be successful, Tesco could start rolling out the packaging by Easter (April).
In early January, retail competitor Marks & Spencer (M&S) announced a similar trial to deploy the technology in strawberry punnets.
With in-store trial results showing “a minimum wastage saving of 4%”, which translates into the saving of 40,000 punnets a week during the peak summer season, or about 800,000 strawberries, M&S has reached an exclusive agreement with It’s Fresh to adopt the ethylene remover for its range of fresh berries over the coming months.