A new packaging film said to double the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables is being trialled on packs of Jersey Royal potatoes sold by British retailer Tesco.

UK-based firm Evap, which developed the potentially revolutionary material, claims it can slow down the rate at which fresh produce ripens and breaks down.

According to Tesco, its own interest in using the new packaging has been sparked by its apparent potential to achieve 'best before' dates that are twice the current ones.

Since admitting it needed to do more in order to improve the freshness of its produce in stores, Tesco has been working hard to seek out new technologies and processes that can reduce the amount of negative feedback it received from customers about shelf-life.

It is also understood that a number of the supermarket's store staff have recommended via Tesco's Listen & Fix consultation scheme that freshness of fruit and vegetables be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Announcing the Evap packaging trial, Tesco said it hoped it could save shoppers 'millions of pounds a year' by significantly reducing the amount of food thrown away.

The retailer argued such a move might also save the fresh produce business 'tens of millions of pounds a year' in wastage costs by extending the amount of time products stay fresh on its shelves.

Should the trials on Jersey Royal Pearl potatoes prove successful, Tesco will consider using the packaging on more of its produce.

'Massive breakthrough'

Andy Blackett, senior potato buyer at Tesco, said: 'This incredible new packaging is a massive breakthrough in the fight against food waste. Our customers want to buy fresh food but often worry they won't have a chance to eat it while its still fresh. And no one likes the guilt that comes with throwing food out.'

He added: 'This packaging will mean Tesco customers can keep their Jersey Royals in the cupboard for longer, safe in the knowledge that they'll be fresh for twice as long.'

Evap has spent five years researching how fruit and vegetables respire in packaging in order to develop their new product, which is also fully biodegradable.

As different fruits and vegetables have varying rates of respiration, Evap has also engineered the film so that it can be tailored to suit individual products.

Wrap, the UK government-funded organisation that helps businesses and individuals reduce waste, welcomed the trial.

'Potatoes are the most widely wasted vegetable in UK homes, with an average of five million potatoes going to waste every single day – costing consumers over £200m a year,' commented Richard Swannell, Wrap's director of design and waste prevention.

'Packaging innovation plays an important role in helping reduce food waste and Wrap welcomes this packaging initiative,' he continued. 'By increasing their shelf-life, consumers will have more time to eat the potatoes they buy, which in turn will help reduce the amount we throw away, and save us money.'