Asda swaps plastic packaging for cellulose-based produce coating to cut food waste

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2 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long
Fresh avocados and limes on the table in the market

Asda stores throughout the UK will soon stock produce coated in a plastic-free material, as part of its continued effort to reduce food waste and become more sustainable.

Made by Californian start-up Apeel Sciences, the spray-on coating is made from the proteins and cellulose found in fruit and vegetable seeds, peels and pulps. These by-products are then mixed with water, and the resulting mixture can be sprayed on a wide variety of fresh produce. 

According to Apeel Sciences, their innovative product works by sealing in moisture in fruit and vegetables while locking out oxygen, keeping products fresh for longer, thus extending their shelf life.

Asda initially trialled Apeel Sciences’ coating on clementines sold in two of its stores in 2019. 

Following this successful run, the coating is being extended to other citrus fruits and avocados, across 150 stores.  

The supermarket claims this will be the first time this type of technology is used on such a scale in the UK. 

Senior Director of Asda, Dominic Edwards, said: “We are always looking for ways to improve the shelf life of our products and make it easier for our customers to make more sustainable food choices whilst making their money go further. 

“During this programme, we will be learning more about the benefits of longer-lasting produce for our customers, and we are looking forward to seeing what further developments this could lead to in the future.” 

Finding appropriate and sustainable coverings which can protect and prolong fresh food is a perennially hot topic. Not least as the merits of plastic are called into question. 

Sustainability charity Wrap recently published a study suggesting single-use plastic – the most common wrapping material – is ineffective in keeping produce fresh, and is a pollutant. 

The 18-month study examined the wrapping on bananas, broccoli and cucumbers. 

Several companies are trying to find solutions to end the use of plastic. TIPA, an Israeli start-up focused on developing compostable packaging that can mimic the functionality of plastic while being more environmentally friendly, is already working with Riverford Organic Farmers, Duchy Organic for Waitrose and fashion brand Stella McCartney.

The use of the Apeel Sciences coating is part of a wider effort by Asda to become more sustainable. The supermarket has a landmark commitment to at least halve food waste by 2030. 

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