AgroSustain SA (Switzerland) and Nanoceuticals LTDA (Brazil) entered into a collaboration agreement to commercialize a plant-based coating solution that extends the shelf-life of vegetables and fruits.
The COVID-19 crisis showed that access to high-quality food is not a matter-of-course. Fresh produce like fruits and vegetables are very prone to disruptions in the value chain. Many factors play a role in preventing fresh products from becoming perished during their journey from the field to the shelves of our supermarkets. Thanks to a unique collaboration between two biotech companies, fruits and vegetables will be able to extend their freshness.
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AgroSustain SA, a Swiss company that develops natural solutions for antifungal treatments, initiated a collaboration with Nanoceuticals LTDA, a Brazilian company that develops plant-based extracts used, amongst other applications, in the cosmetic and the food industry. The companies realized they might be able to solve together important food perishability issues along the fresh produce value chains. The startups met each other in 2018 during the Academia-Industry Training programme, organised by swissnex Brazil and the University of St.Gallen, as the Leading House for the Latin American region. The programme aims to assist researchers-entrepreneurs from Switzerland and Brazil in the development of their projects and studies for the market and the industry.
The plant-based coating developed by AgroSustain is applied right after the harvest to slow down the maturing process and water loss during transportation and keep the product as fresh as possible until delivered to the consumers. First tests have shown that stone fruits and lemons treated with the colorless and odorless product have no signs of decay by up to 21 days longer than untreated fruit. Being 100% biological, edible and biodegradable, the coating is perfectly suited to the expectations of modern, environmentally, and health-conscious consumers.
By accessing the Brazilian market, AgroSustain will enter a sector that accounts for 21.4% of the country’s GDP in 2019. The fruits and vegetable segment represents 5.5% of the food industry. Despite the impacts of the new coronavirus in the economy, the GDP of the Brazilian agricultural sector is expected to rise by 2.5% in 2020.
“Latin America is the leader in the production and exporting of high-quality crops worldwide,” says Olga Dubey, founder and CEO of AgroSustain, a biologist and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from UNIL. “Our product is a 100% biological and biodegradable solution that provides freshness extension to a large number of crops once harvested. Hence, it can help producers and distributors reduce the food losses during transportation and storage, thus allowing to broaden their offering of the exported crops even more, like melons from Brazil.”
Large scale pilot trials
As a next step, the companies intend to conduct large scale pilot trials in collaboration with one of the largest European retailers. They will be financially supported by InnoSuisse, to optimize the product formulation and make it applicable to a large number of crops. Parties intend to bring the product to the market in the coming 18 to 20 months. The companies are optimistic about receiving registration approval promptly as the core compounds of the coating are already certified as edible compounds by the regulatory authorities in Brazil.
AgroSustain will be responsible for product certification and commercialization. Through the collaboration with Nanoceuticals, the company added an effective post-harvest solution to its crop protection portfolio and is looking forward to offering its clients a complete service from the field to the retail shelf.
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