Tesco Tackles Food Waste with Ethylene-Absorbing Strips

by | Feb 9, 2012

Tesco is trialing a packaging strip developed by It’sFresh! Ltd. in an effort to make food last longer and prevent waste.

The U.K. supermarket giant will be the first retailer to test the packaging on tomatoes and avocados, which are the food items that go to waste most often, The Guardian reports. The company says the strips could save 1.6 million packs of tomatoes and 350,000 packs of avocados a year.

Tesco says initial trials have been successful and if future tests work, the strips could be used in 80 percent of the tomato varieties the supermarket sells, starting with a launch around Easter. The technology could then be used with a wider range of fruit and vegetables, Tesco says.

It is the second U.K. retailer to try out the packaging. Last month Marks & Spencer announced it will use the It’sFresh! strip inside its strawberry punnets. M&S said the strip would extend the fruit’s life by two days, and make the fruit taste just as good on day six as on day one.

The strip uses a mixture of high-tech minerals and clay to absorb ethylene, the hormone that causes fruit to ripen and turn moldy, and the product is 100 times more effective than any competing materials, It’sFresh! says.

The M&S trials showed a minimum wastage saving of four percent, which during the peak strawberry season would equal about 40,000 packs, It’sFresh says. During the British strawberry season, M&S sells about 1 million punnets per week. M&S is now looking to use the strips in packaging for all of its fresh berries.

It’sFresh! has previously supplied the technology to other U.K. retailers for transit packaging – but the M&S trials were the first time the strip was used for consumer product packaging.

Picture credit: Olle Svensson

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