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Brief Published: 25 Jul 2018

No More Mushy Avocados: Edible Coating Doubles Shelf Life

Californian company Apeel Sciences has developed an edible coating that can extend the shelf life of this millennial favourite. The invisible barrier, made entirely from plant materials, delays mushiness – an innovation that could spark a food retail revolution.

The coating is made from naturally occurring lipids extracted from discarded fruit and vegetable waste, which are made into a dip or spray. This sustainable solution is set to reduce the amount of produce thrown away by retailers and consumers due to spoilage.

On average, Americans throw away 400lb of food per person each year (NRDC, 2017). Apeel aims to prevent this wastage by naturally preserving the ripeness of produce. The coating also offers a sustainable replacement for packaging, potentially reducing food retail's reliance on plastics.

Although the company is focusing on avocados due to their notoriously fleeting window of perfect ripeness, Apeel's formula can be modified for strawberries, mangoes, apples, bananas, kumquats and asparagus. The coating can also be used in regions where refrigeration is not widely available – in pilot projects in Nigeria and Kenya, it was applied to cassava root and mangoes.

Apeel Sciences is not the first to tackle the avocado conundrum. Californian avocado distributor Calavo uses ProRipe VIP, which evaluates how ripe the fruits are by measuring their acoustic response. And an Australian company has created an "avocado time machine" that slows down the browning process.

For more on sustainability in this industry, see Sustainable Restaurants and Feeding Tomorrow's Consumers.