Israeli startup Sufresca has developed a natural spray that allows the produce to breathe and add weeks to its life


Sufresca®’s natural edible coatings extend the impact of lasting freshness by offering a simple solution for a growing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including those that are challenging to coat, thanks to our innovative technology and fresh outlook.

Sufresca®’s technological portfolio is the product of 15 years of R&D at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The spray is designed to replace both the wax coating and plastic wrappers and will cut down both on disposable packaging and on food waste. 

“We develop edible coatings for fruits and vegetables to prolong their shelf life,” says Tal Marmur Sirota, VP of R&D at the company. 

“Our two main aims are to reduce the massive food waste, and reduce the use of plastic, which is currently the most popular solution to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables.”

In tests, mini cucumbers harvested at the same time stayed fresh longer when coated with Sufresca’s solution. Courtesy

Sprayed produce can last days longer at room temperature, or several weeks longer in the fridge.

The coating, made of natural ingredients, like water, fatty acids and polysaccharides, is odorless, tasteless, and is less than a micron thin – or a thousandth of a millimeter.

Fruit and vegetables use up their store of nutrients after they’re harvested and lose water through their skin. So they wilt and dry out. 

The Sufresca solution being applied to avocados by hand in a trial in the UK. Courtesy

But Sufresca’s new coating slows down both these processes – whether the produce is being shipped across the world, or sitting on someone’s kitchen counter. 

“Imagine our solution is like a net: the produce still has holes between the molecules that gives it the ability to breathe,” says Efrat Boker Ferri, Co-founder and CEO. “We can adjust the solution for each kind of produce.

“The uniqueness in our solution is that it’s natural. It works with vegetables and fruit, and the results are better than any competitor.”

Efrat Boker Ferri, CEO and Co-founder, and Tal Marmur Sirota, VP of R&D. Courtesy

Every kind of produce needs to be coated with a slightly different mix of the same ingredients, depending on their water content, and their peel or skin, and each fruit and vegetable has its challenges.

“Peppers, for example, don’t have the same water content as a tomato,” says Marmur Sirota, who helped the startup produce its prototype for coating peppers.

So far, the company has developed coatings for cucumber, mango, avocado, tomato, garlic, onion and pomegranate seeds.

Sufresca is continuing to develop coatings for different kinds of fruit and vegetables. Deposit Photos

The idea for the startup began as a bet. Amos Nussinovitch, Sufresca’s Co-founder and a professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was studying edible coatings.

A colleague bet him that he couldn’t preserve peppers – which are 90 percent water, resulting in them shriveling quickly and losing nutrients. After 15 years of research, he finbally proved them wrong. 

Sufresca will soon start selling its sprays for use in packing houses – after the produce has been cleaned and treated with antibacterial materials.

It’s cheaper than the wax currently used, and it’s a like-for-like replacement, which means the packers can apply it using existing machinery.

In tests, red bell peppers harvested at the same time stayed fresh longer when coated with Sufresca’s solution. Courtesy

Unlike rival solutions, such as Apeel’s edible coating, it doesn’t need specialist equipment, and can even be applied by hand.

“Even developing countries that may not have packing houses will be able to apply the coating,” she says.

Produce can arrive under-weight at distributors because it loses moisture during transit, says Marmur Sirota. That can cause problems if, for example, a 10kg crate of peppers arrives at the retailers weighing just 9.5kg.

Even developing countries that may not have packing houses will be able to apply the coating by hand. Courtesy

So if these companies that supply the materials to packing houses can preserve their fruits better, retailers will keep coming back for more of Sufresca’s products.

The solution will likely appeal to European distributors most. Last year, France banned the use of plastic packaging for 30 types of fruits and vegetables. This year, Spain is expected to follow suit.

And given that an average of 70 percent of citizens across 34 countries want to end plastic (according to a poll of more than 23,000 adults), more countries are likely to join them.

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