Source - IFT NEXT Newsletter May 14, 2019
Approximately one third of food produced for human consumption goes to waste every year, with fruits and vegetables accounting for a significant share. In an effort to reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills, scientists at StixFresh have developed a sticker that can be applied to fruits to extend their freshness and shelf life.
Developed by Zhafri Zainudin, who grew up in Seremban, Malaysia, the sticker uses a formulation of specially sourced beeswax and other natural ingredients to form a protective layer around the fruit and slow overripening. Zainudin was inspired to develop the technology after seeing the amount of waste created when fruit from his family’s stall in Seremban spoiled before it could be sold.
"At that time, I was doing some R&D on soil activators for the Malaysian Rubber Board," he says. "During my research, I discovered a compound that could repel disease from certain crops. This was when I started conceptualizing StixFresh and experimented with different materials. I chose to coat stickers with the compound because this would be the easiest and most efficacious way of delivering the technology. The stickers were then adhered to the fruit so they could keep them fresh longer."
The StixFresh stickers can be applied anywhere along the supply-chain—at the producer, distributor, retail, or end-consumer level. "Any branding of choice, including bar codes, can be printed on the sticker,"" says Moody Soliman, StixFresh cofounder and CEO.
Soliman believes the StixFresh technology can help governments, companies, and communities provide food sustainably as well as tackle the issue of climate change. In addition to extending shelf life, it has the potential to enable developing communities to consume fresh, natural, and organic foods they would not have been able to access previously.
Although StixFresh is in the final product development and testing stage, the company’s R&D team continues to work on optimizing the formulation’s effectiveness and mitigating batch-to-batch variation. Additionally, the team has implemented a pilot manufacturing line designed to transfer knowledge from the R&D effort into a scalable manufacturing process. "This will give the StixFresh technical team an opportunity to tweak the process to increase the product’s effectiveness, identify production bottlenecks, and define the processing parameters more clearly as we begin to scale manufacturing," says Soliman.
The StixFresh cofounders hope their company will become a global leader in developing and commercializing technologies that will significantly reduce waste via all-natural, safe, and sustainable methods. "In addition to fruits and vegetables," says Soliman, "our long-term objective is to provide waste reduction solutions across the food and agriculture industries, which will include preharvest crops, postharvest crops, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and more. As a result, we’re also exploring other delivery methods beyond the stickers (pods, coatings, sprays, etc.)."