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Preventing Food Losses by Using Food Tech Solution to Extend Shelf Life

vegetables in boxes.

Solution for food losses during post-harvest is estimated at around one-third of the actual food production. The estimates give 30% losses for cereals; 50% for root crops, fruits, and vegetables; 20% for oilseeds, meat and dairy; and 35% losses for fish. Such statistics always have bold impacts on the food industry, as well as its consumers.

The analytics from the food tech solutions can provide an important solution for food losses.

These percentages have not changed much for decades, although the percentages of losses vary from country to country according to their level of economic development. For developing countries, the losses mainly occur during post-harvest and processing. With developed countries, the losses occur at retail and consumer levels.

With the earth’s population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, a solution for food losses is expected, companies worldwide have been developing solutions to address this problem.

From Harvest to Market

Studies have always focused on how to harvest properly, in a quick and orderly manner, where the product is kept as fresh as it was on the tree. This has resulted in methods where produce is boxed at the field whenever possible. Still, these boxes have to reach the market or the commercial kitchen. There is still a lot of available improvements in the processes and in monitoring them from the farm until they reach the consumer.

Preventing food losses

Some foods have to travel long distances via shipping containers to get to their destination. BluWrap is a food tech solution which extends the food shelf life by reducing oxygen inside shipping containers. It uses fuel cells and built-in sensors in maintaining a consistent ambient atmosphere throughout the transportation process. This extends the freshness and can also help to reach new markets.

Another solution is BT9 Xsense®, which is a real-time chain management system that monitors food production from the producer to the store. Users can use the information to help maximize product quality.

Edipeel has a different approach to post-harvest protection. Developed by Apeel Sciences, Edipeel comes from all-natural plant extracts processed by recycling agricultural products. It acts as a protective barrier against transpiration, oxidation, and microbes, this can be the solution for food losses due from spoilage and to stay the freshness of the food.

Leafy Green Machine™, the food tech solution by Freight Farms, is not new but has a different take on food production. The technology assures 365 days of harvest per year, even in diverse and challenging climate conditions. The Machine resides inside a shipping container and includes a climate-controlled closed-system hydroponic farming. It also has the Farmhand Connect app, which lets growers track the climate conditions inside the Machine. Humidity, temperature, carbon dioxide, plant nutrients, and pH levels are monitored and optimized for best efficiency, maximized production, and minimized waste products.

An alternative solution for conventional refrigeration is Wakati, which uses hydration in preserving food during transport. One liter of water per week with the help of solar energy and the Wakati system keeps fresh produce hydrated. This allows farmers and other producers in warm climates to safely store their products on the farm as well as during transit.

Food Shelf-Life Monitoring and Storage Solutions

In developed countries, the most significant losses are in the retail and consumer levels. While there are several food tech solutions, these usually monitor the food inside the refrigerator and advise the consumer on what food are nearing spoilage. This is generally achieved with the use of a smart refrigerator. Shelf-life monitoring, as well as storage solutions, are also being placed on a large scale in supermarkets. The answers do not require an intelligent appliance, as the containers and plastics are usually the solutions themselves.

One piece of technology new to the market makes use of a natural oxidation process for refrigerated products. Called Bluapple, this is an ethylene absorber for refrigerators. Ethylene is naturally occurring gas emitted by various fruits and vegetables. Limiting this chemical helps to prolong the food product shelf life of produce by up to three times longer.

Another storage solution for grains and seeds is from the International Rice Research Center, located in the Philippines. Called the Super Bag, it is a hermetically sealed storage which reduces the oxygen level to 5 percent, and significantly reduces the number of live insects without the use of insecticides. The Super Bag is also capable of maintaining consistent grain moisture, increasing germination life for stored seeds, from 6 to 12 months. As grain storage, Super Bag improves head rice recovery during the milling process.

VTT Technical Research Center has developed smart packaging which has wireless sensors that detect ethanol accumulation in food packaging. It has a live data feed on a particular food’s freshness and overall quality, which it transmits to customers via RFID tags. The smart packaging improves food product shelf-life, food quality, and reduce the food losses throughout the transport as well as the retail.

In the Kitchen

The kitchen is not only a place where food is prepared – this is also where the products have to be kept at their best. As such, food management is essential to the success of a commercial kitchen. Lastly, proper planning and forecasting are also important.

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