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Applied Technology: Extending freshness

Freshness, as everyone in the produce supply chain knows, is the key to sales. It is also the bane of suppliers and shippers, so tools to extend freshness are always welcome—and a way to earn favor with retailers.

One such innovation comes from a Massachusetts firm, Nature’s Frequencies, which invented a “Food Freshness Card” to decrease food waste.

The card, which is laminated and holographic, can be placed in a refrigerator or cold storage and is supposed to double the shelf life of the foods it protects. It’s programmed with electromagnetic waves and frequencies to delay the growth of mold and bacteria that feed on food and contribute to decay.

Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA, tested 36 Food Freshness Cards in storage, walk-in refrigerator, and serving or staging areas. The cards prevented mold on bread, and highly perishable berries (including blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries) lasted twice as long with the cards in place. Salad vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce were also staying fresh at least twice as long, sometimes more. The product has clear benefits for produce shippers and distributors, though it is not yet in widespread use.

Another way to lengthen shelf life comes from Apeel Sciences, in Goleta, CA. Apeel’s approach lies with the produce itself, using lipids to enhance a fruit or vegetable’s lifecycle. So far, work with avocados, strawberries, and citrus on the supply side have proven quite successful, offering retailers better looking fruit and longer shelf life.

This is the second in a series of six stories on Applied Technology. To read the whole series, click here.

Heather Larson, a writer in Tacoma, WA, frequently delves into business issues affecting food-related companies.