An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted globally every year, representing about 30% of total production. Indian company GreenPod has developed a product that, it claims can help to extend shelf life of fruit and vegetables while being safe and cost-effective.
Deepak Rajmohan, CEO of the company, explained that he started the company in 2019 having studied and then worked as a food scientist in the USA for three and a half years. Initially, he wanted to develop a solution for cold storage, but he soon realised that high-cost solutions would not work for the Indian market. Instead he went into active packaging, where compounds are released or absorbed to keep the food intact in a cost-effective way.
GreenPod’s solution is a small sachet containing proprietary formulations made of plant extracts and edible ingredients. The sachets release compounds that slow down the ripening rate and inhibit microbial growth. The compounds are made from products like corn and potato extracts from, as well as many Indian spices, plants, leaves, etc.
As each crop is unique, the formulations- with about 10 to 15 ingredients each – differ from product to product. So, based upon the specific analysis of each crop, a specific compound is created. The quantity that can be preserved by one sachet also differs for different crops – for tomatoes it is 5-7 Kgs, while for figs it is 3-4 kgs. On average 1 sachet protects 5-7 kgs of produce.
“Fruit like a banana spoils because of over-ripening while fruit like a strawberry or fig spoils because of microbial growth”, says Rajmohan. “The sachet controls both. When fruit and vegetables are stored in a crate after harvesting, the packet is dropped in to retain quality throughout the supply chain and increase its shelf life. If it is introduced at a later stage, then it controls the ripening rate”.
GreenPod is currently working with 25-30 large customers in India who are looking for solutions to the food waste problem. The current infrastructure in India, using cold storage, has capacity to hold 10-12% of the total production.