Tesco supermarkets is set to trial Apeel, a plant-based edible protective coating for fresh produce. It will be used in roughly 80 stores to understand the effect it has on the shelf life of products including oranges and lemons.
Apeel is made from lipids and glycerolipids found in the peels, seeds, and pulp of fruits and vegetables, creating a thin, edible ‘peel’ on the outside of produce. The coating reportedly slows the rate of water loss and oxidation, some of the primary causes of spoilage.
Michelle Masek, communications advisor at Apeel Sciences, previously told Packaging Europe: “For suppliers and retailers, Apeel is the only postharvest solution that creates an optimal microclimate inside every fruit or vegetable, maintaining quality, extending shelf life, and transportability — with reduced reliance on refrigeration and controlled atmosphere.”
The stores, located around the Peterborough area, will offer Apeel-coated Jaffa Oranges, Jaffa Sweet Easy Peelers, and Lemon Packs, focusing on the impact Apeel has on shelf life. The Apeel solution will then be put through Tesco customer panels for feedback.
Sarah Bradbury, quality director at Tesco Group, said: “Tackling food waste is one of the ways we’re working hard to minimise our environmental impact and help protect the planet. Apeel could be a powerful tool in helping us cut waste in our supply chain and help customers reduce it in their homes.”
According to Tesco, 400,00 tonnes of fruit are thrown away as household food waste annually. 720,000 whole oranges are reportedly thrown away each day. Swiss research group Empa reported that the environmental impact of throwing away spoiled cucumbers is higher than that of the plastic wrappers used to package them.
Edible coatings could potentially be a solution to protect produce during transit, on shelves, and in the home with the aim to cut plastic usage. Lidl Switzerland developed an edible cellulose coating derived from pomace for fruits and vegetables, with a preliminary trial demonstrating extended shelf life for bananas. Additionally, Sufresca says its water-based emulsion composed of natural food ingredients provides a partial barrier for optimal gas exchange that helps to slow the post-harvest maturation and degradation of fresh produce.