UK food technology company It’s Fresh! has developed a filter system to slow down the ripening process and extends the lifespan of fruit and some vegetables which it believes will bring significant benefits to the global banana trade.
The company is pioneering research to prolong the green life of bananas, meaning more of the nation’s favourite fruit will make it to our shores without going to waste.
A series of independent postharvest trials were carried out in Costa Rica to demonstrate the efficacy of the filter in prolonging the ‘green life’ of bananas. The research, conducted by Dr Manuel Madrid, demonstrated that the use of the technology doubled green life to an average of 70+ days when used in a modified atmosphere.
Industry standards require bananas to remain green during shipment and distribution, meaning that any bananas that have ripened in transit are rendered unsalable and go to waste.
These developments follow the successful implementation of a filter created by It’s Fresh! for supermarkets to extend the life and quality of fruit by two to four days which has since been adopted by many of the main supermarket chains.
The tests demonstrated that the filter successfully absorbs ethylene – the ripening hormone – from the bananas’ environment and was shown to be more efficient and environmentally friendly than alternative methods that are currently being used.
It’s Fresh! released the research at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin in February.
Bananas are now the world’s most exported fruit and constitute a third of all fruit imported into the UK, where 5bn bananas are consumed each year.
Ecuador is the biggest exporter, and banana shipments to countries like China, Russia, or the Middle East will be generating a significantly higher carbon footprint as well as greater amounts of avoidable waste.
There is immense pressure on banana growers and exporters to ensure their produce does not ripen in transit and huge wastage is incurred, having a significant impact on farmers’ output.
“It is clear that the carbon footprint of our banana consumption must be addressed and the new technology developed by It’s Fresh! provides a means of ensuring far more bananas make it to our shelves,” the company said.
Madrid, who has worked in the sector for over 25 years, said: “From the work that I have conducted, It’s Fresh! undoubtedly enhances the life and quality of green bananas providing clear commercial advantages for the supply chain”.
The company’s founder Simon Lee said: “we are committed to reducing food waste globally and this means addressing issues throughout the production process, as well as in our supermarkets and homes.
“Our findings enable us to demonstrate the power of this technology, reducing global waste as well as well as helping growers and importers across the world.”