It is estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted worldwide each year, representing around 30% of total production. The Indian company GreenPod has developed a product that it says can help extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables while being safe and cost-effective.
Deepak Rajmohan, CEO of the company, explained that he started the company in 2019 after studying and then working as a food scientist in the United States for three and a half years. Initially, he wanted to develop a solution for cold storage, but he soon realized that high cost solutions would not work for the Indian market. Instead he went in active packagingwhere compounds are released or absorbed to keep food intact cost-effectively.
GreenPod’s solution is a small sachet containing proprietary formulations of plant extracts and edible ingredients. The pouches release compounds that slow the rate of ripening and inhibit microbial growth. Compounds are made from products such as corn and potato extracts, as well as many Indian spices, plants, leaves, etc.
As each culture is unique, the formulations – with around 10 to 15 ingredients each – differ from product to product. Thus, based on the specific analysis of each culture, a specific compound is created. The amount that can be preserved by one sachet also differs depending on the crop – for tomatoes it is 5-7 kg, while for figs it is 3-4 kg. On average, 1 sachet protects 5 to 7 kg of products.
“A fruit like a banana spoils due to over-ripening while a fruit like a strawberry or a fig spoils due to microbial growth,” says Rajmohan. “The sachet controls both. When fruits and vegetables are stored in a crate after harvest, the package is dropped off to maintain quality throughout the supply chain and increase shelf life. If introduced at a later stage, then it controls the rate of maturation.”
GreenPod is currently working with 25-30 large clients in India who are looking for solutions to the problem of food waste. The current infrastructure in India, using cold storage, has the capacity to hold 10-12% of the total production.