SPAIN – Spanish company Naturpod has come up with an innovative solution that keeps fruits and vegetables fresher for longer thus preventing food waste.

Naturpod is a sachet containing potassium permanganate meant to absorb ethylene, a natural gas produced by fruit and vegetables that accelerates the ripening process.

Fruit and vegetables stay fresh and in prime shape for a longer period of time when the sachet is kept inside the refrigerator door or in a shop warehouse.

The business is aiming its solution at European customers as well as retailers.

Marta Pastor Maltas, CEO and co-founder of Naturpod, claims that the sachet can lessen food waste and its negative environmental impacts, save money for businesses help people eat healthier by keeping food fresher for longer and preserving its nutritional value.

“It works with all types of fruit and vegetables. There are some that emit more ethylene than others and there are fruits and vegetables that are more sensitive to this ethylene. By absorbing ethylene, it cleans the refrigerator environment, and fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer for an average of two to three times.

“If an apple lasts two weeks in your refrigerator, with Naturpod it will last four to six weeks depending on when it was harvested and how many other things are in the refrigerator,” he said.

He stated that the technology will aid businesses in increasing efficiency, saving them typically €600 (U.S.$620) annually.

The EUR 8.95 (U.S.$9.25) Naturpod box for in-home consumers comes with three sachets that normally last 30 days each. Size affects how much local supermarkets, shops, and retailers charge.

Naturpod is a sachet containing potassium permanganate meant to absorb ethylene, a natural gas produced by fruit and vegetables that accelerates the ripening process.

Highlighting the difference between Naturpod and similar technology already in the market, Pastor said,

“We were aware there was this technology that was already used in transport. But it was not used for final consumers or shops, where much of the waste and loss is produced. There was no solution for this segment, so I thought there was a huge opportunity.”

According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021 by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), 43% of the food produced globally is wasted in households, 26% in catering services, and 13% in retail.

“The way it works is not the same as transport as it is designed specifically for consumers and retailers,” pointed out Maria Elisa Turullols Cardenal, Naturpod COO and Strategic Development, who explained that the technology is being developed to provide intelligent functionality to users.

She pinpointed that the sensors and data will provide information to consumers and retailers about humidity, temperature and the amount of ethylene present in the storage environment, something she claims has never been considered before in that market segment.

“So we are ahead of anyone else in this sense. Nor should retailers fear that people are buying fewer fruits and vegetables thanks to this technology. If everything in your fridge lasts longer you have to buy less because you are not throwing anything away,” she stated.

Regulations to drive Naturpod’s expansion

The solution is also timely, Turullols believes, “As more and more countries introduce laws that require businesses to take temperature, humidity and ethylene measures to make sure they don’t waste food. So we provide the kind of information that much of this legislation requires. ”

For instance, the new food waste regulation in Spain, which is anticipated to take effect on January 1 of the next year, will call for enterprises to develop plans to lower food losses and waste.

For wasting food, supermarkets and restaurants in Spain can be fined up to 60,000 euros (US$ 62,002).

In France and Italy, similar legislation is anticipated.

Thus, the Naturpod company, which is presently based in Spain, intends to expand throughout all of Europe as well as in the Middle East, reports Food Navigator.

As one of the 12 start-ups picked as finalists of the second iteration of the Abu Dhabi-based FoodTech Challenge, which aims to discover the most cutting-edge agro-technology and food enterprises already operating on the market, its goals to scale will probably be supported.

The 12 finalists, who were chosen from an original pool of 667 entries from 79 countries, are now enrolled in a six-week mentoring program before moving on to the competition’s final round, when four start-ups will be chosen to receive the top prize of up to USD 2 million.

“This is a huge opportunity for us to contribute to the challenge of climate change and have a global impact,” said Turullo.

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