What if we bought tomatoes on the market and they were still perfectly ripe for weeks? It’s like a dream, but it’s the promise of an American startup: formula for fruits without pesticides that last 5 times more.
The folks at startup Apeel Sciences, aims to make waxes, gases and liquids pesticides a thing of the past. Using leaves, stems, banana peels and other plant materials left over after harvesting or processing, they developed a product that forms a protective film to have fruits without pesticides.
This film is edible and unnoticeable to our taste, but is effective against microorganisms that spoil food. It’s also enough to prolong the shelf life of fruits and even some vegetables up to 5 times.
Actually, the company produces 2 products, Invisipeel ®, to ward off insects and other pests and Edipeel ®, which prevents the loss of water and fruit oxidation. You can even use them at the same time to have the benefits of both the first pre-harvest and the second, after harvest. And both are eliminated in the washing of fruits by the consumer.
The manufacturing process involves extracting all liquid from agricultural wastes and use bran particles remaining in the composition of the product. They use only certified organic products remains as the grape skins left over from the production of wine, for example.
The formulas are kept secret by the company, but the principle of the spray Invisipeel® is based on the fact that bacteria, fungi and insects identify food sources through recognition of specific molecules on surfaces. The product work fortifying the surfaces with an ultrathin layer of chemically contrasting molecules, making these foods unrecognizable to pests. This is still in the testing phase.
Liquid Edipeel® forms a semi-permeable membrane around the fruit and was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA) as “generally recognized as safe”, a status which means that a product is safe to eat and for sale. The first selected clients will begin to use the product still in 2017.
The startup came when the founder was a PhD student. He wondered if the processes he was studying to make coatings used in solar cells could also be applied to extend the life of other products. He joined then another student specialist in nanostructured films and together they worked in his garage to create prototypes.
The concept won $10000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and since then, they never stopped. Some venture capital firms also gambled on Apeel Sciences, which has already received 40 million dollars of investment.
Can you imagine the impact throughout the food chain? And on waste management since they only use leftovers in formulation? Further, eliminating the use of agrochemicals and pesticides. We still don’t know when it will be available to all or at what price, but it’s wait and see.