Rewe tests edible protective coatings

The Rewe Group claims to be the first trader in Germany to test the “Coating”. Tropical fruits are given a thin edible coating that reduces cellular respiration and keeps the fruit fresh for longer.

Food technicians have long been working on how to improve the shelf life, consistency, and taste of fruit and vegetables in order to reduce spoilage and save on packaging material. The latest idea is coating. This gives fruit and field crops a wafer-thin, edible coating that reduces cellular respiration. This keeps the fruit fresh for longer.

The Rewe Group explains that initial tests conducted in the USA and Great Britain show that coating could actually be a suitable means of delaying ripening and reducing spoilage. According to a recent UN study, 14 percent of all foods worldwide are “lost” during production. Reasons include errors in harvesting, transport and storage.

Coating for tropical fruits

Rewe reports that it is the first food retailer in Germany to test whether and, if so, to what extent coating can help to reduce food losses and waste. “We have been campaigning for years against food waste and for using less plastic packaging and would like to determine the efficiency of this process in practice,” explains Eugenio Guidoccio, Managing Director Ultra Freshness – Fruit and Vegetables. In the coming weeks, Rewe will have tropical fruits treated accordingly. Limes, avocados, mangoes and pomelos will be given a thin coating consisting of natural sugar, cellulose and vegetable oils. “The coating is edible and well tolerated,” promises the British producer, AgriCoat NatureSeal.

“We want to observe how the fruits develop during transport to our warehouses and while they are stored there. Our hope is that they will stay fresh much longer,” explains Guidoccio. The first test products are already in the warehouses. “Depending on how the test proceeds, we will decide whether to extend the test to selected Rewe and Penny stores and add further items if necessary. He added that the Rewe Group is open-minded towards innovative technologies and has been observing the topic of coating very closely for around three years. This process was first tested and applied in the USA. Since the EU gave the go-ahead for coating a few months ago, Rewe has been pushing ahead with the topic.

Background: Nearly 100 years ago, people used a simple method to make fruits less perishable . They coated the fruit with wax. Today, companies like the British AgriCoat NatureSeal, a subsidiary of the US Mantrose Haeuser Group, are opting for a thin and tasteless coating called “Semperfresh”.

It consists of a mixture of natural sugar residues, cellulose and vegetable oils and can be applied by spraying or dipping the fruit. The coating applied in this way reduces the cellular respiration of the fruits. The coatings are designed to “let through” more carbon dioxide than oxygen. This creates a kind of modified atmosphere in the fruit. According to AgriCoat NatureSeal, it delays ripening and reduces the spoilage of many fresh fruits. They then remain “freshly harvested” for twice as long as untreated fruit.

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