Sufresca has said it is looking to 'breathe new life' into the global pursuit for combatting food waste and plastic use, through the optimisation of its invisible edible coating designed to extend the shelf-life of fresh produce.
The agri-tech startup has also shared the business model for its plug-in system for the benefit of retailers and growers, while noting that it is expanding its use to fit a range of fresh fruit and vegetables.
According to Sufresca, the product is an edible, biodegradable, water-based emulsion composed of wholly natural food ingredients and inbuilt with advanced modified atmosphere properties.
When applied to a fresh fruit or vegetable, the solution creates a breathable coating, with minute disruptions within the coating acting as a partial barrier, allowing for 'optimal gas exchange'.
This slows down the post-harvest maturation and ripening processes and subsequent degradation and decay, while also solving the problems that come with using impermeable sealants.
Sufresca said that the sustainable solution could extend shelf-life by up to several weeks, saving plastic packaging and extending shipment time – reducing loss of fresh produce on-route, as well as in-shop waste.
“The chaotic structure of our coating was inspired by the cuticle structures that naturally layer plants to protect them from extreme environmental conditions and from water loss,” explained Efrat Boker-Ferri, CEO of Sufresca.
The company said it had developed a high-feasibility business model for straightforward application of its solution into existing systems.
The aim, Sufresca noted, was to make the coating solution an attractive, highly scalable, and convenient option for producers, distributers, and exporters of fresh produce in the early stages of the supply chain but can also be applied at the later stages.
“Retailers and packaging houses are seeking cost-effective solutions to reduce waste and are kind to the planet,” Boker-Ferri continued. “Our natural formula can be easily integrated into existing industry equipment, is adaptable to the various coating techniques and is completely safe to use.
'While we do offer a range of support services and guidance, our system is very straightforward to implement, eliminating the need for Sufresca personnel to be on site, increasing its affordability.”
Founded in 2020, Sufresca’s green solution is the result of a 15-year R&D effort led by the start-up’s CSO, professor Amos Nussinovitch, in his lab at the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The research team collaborated to develop a sustainable solution for fresh produce, achieving its first proof-of-concept for highly perishable peppers known to be sensitive to weight loss.
The team were determined to find an all-encompassing formula that could be adapted to a broader spectrum of fresh produce.
“Each vegetable has its own unique traits,” says Nussinovitch. “In our search for the common denominator that connects the plant kingdom, these physiological distinctions had to be addressed.”
Last year the company reached a breakthrough of optimising its proprietary system to be applicable to different varieties of cucumber, mango, avocados and more.
The start-up recently closed US$3.5M in seed investment led by OurCrowd VC, Israel, followed by the food and agri-tech focused group Feat Investments plus other investors. The round supported an initial US$1.3M previously raised from Agrinnovation and Rimonim.