- Israeli packaging startup Sufresca has received $500,000 in seed funding from venture capital fund Rimonim Agro, according to AgFunder News. This latest investment brings the company's total funding to $1.3 million, The Spoon reported.
- Sufresca, founded in 2018 by three professors at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, develops edible coatings for fruits and vegetables to help extend shelf life, limit food waste and reduce plastic packaging. According to a Rimonim release, 25% to 80% of harvested fresh produce is lost because of spoilage.
- The startup is focusing on tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, garlic and peppers since fewer coating solutions are available for them. In contrast, apples, lemons and other citrus fruits have been treated with wax for years. Sufresca plans to introduce its products to North America and Europe within two years.
As companies search for more sustainable packaging solutions that don't sacrifice on preservation, this funding could help Sufresca finish developing its technology and get its product on the market sooner.
The company says it has already developed a generally recognized as safe coating layer that can extend shelf life by several weeks while allowing continuation of the vegetable's metabolism, which is required to maintain freshness and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Sufresca’s technology uses liquid formulas to create a "breathable coating" when applied to fruits and vegetables, according to The Spoon.
But Sufresca isn't the only company working on solutions like this. The approach is similar to Apeel Sciences' plant-based powder, which can be mixed with water and applied to produce to reduce spoilage. Another startup, Indonesia-based Evoware, developed an edible food wrapper made from seaweed. It is reportedly nearly tasteless when consumed, and naturally biodegrades after use.
More details will likely need to be released for consumers to trust this new packaging before it hits the market. As transparency has become more important in purchasing decisions, consumers will likely want to know what ingredients make up Sufresca's liquid formulas and whether they're safe to consume. Uncertainty around these factors could limit acceptance in the marketplace and delay the introduction of more packaging innovations.
A lack of progress in the CPG industry has prompted a push toward more creative packaging and reusable solutions. Investors have pressured Big Food to reduce plastic packaging use and many companies have made pledges to make improvements. But as reports claim that CPG companies still haven't shown significant progress on sustainability goals, many are looking to reduce their waste.
Applications for plant-based coatings extend beyond produce. Cambridge Crops of Massachusetts has come up with an edible and tasteless microlayer of silk-based proteins in which to wrap foods including sausages and steaks in order to reduce reliance on single-use plastics. The company raised $4 million in seed funding last summer to boost the use of its patented technology, comply with federal regulations and scale up production and commercial partnerships.
Other promising developments to reduce packaging waste include metal oxide-coated high-barrier polymer packaging, recyclable paper wrappers for snack bars and reusable egg cartons made from recycled BPA-free plastic.
As consumers look for creative packaging solutions in the products they buy, food and beverage producers are increasingly responding with innovations to limit their use of plastic and, potentially, reduce manufacturing expenses. There's a lot of money to be saved since about 45% of the materials in U.S. landfills consists of food waste and packaging, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.