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Agri-Food Tech company, It’s Fresh! on solving the fresh produce ethylene problem

Founded in 2011, It's Fresh! is an innovative food waste reduction business, headquartered in Burntwood, Staffordshire. The green technology startup has developed solutions to extend the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the entire food supply chain, reducing waste and optimising produce quality.

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By Victor MUJIDU

Kenyan consumers have embraced “It’s Fresh! Technology,” which typically helps reduce waste and improve food security, safety, and affordability for communities globally.

It’s Fresh is a global food technology business that helps extend the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the entire food supply chain, to reduce waste and optimise produce quality.

Speaking during the 4th International Africa Avocado Congress, Jon Barfoot, the Strategic Accounts Director at It’s Fresh, commented that Kenya is among the largest exporters of products like avocados globally and is embracing the It’s Fresh! Ethylene Control technology to manage the balance of ethylene to optimize levels, reducing waste and enhancing taste.

“We have customers already in place in Kenya that are linked to the South African business, and we also have teams in Peru, Colombia, and Chile, and we have extended services in the Asian market and the North American market as well.

“We’ve been operating in the marketplace for the last three years, primarily focusing on our products in Africa, where we’re working with a number of very large exporters that export globally, with a focus in UK markets and British supermarkets because you can see a world with very high standards straightaway as the market to sell into, so it’s a good place for us to cut our teeth to improve our technology,” said Jon Barfoot during his presentation.

Ethylene, which is a by-product of the ripening process of fruits and vegetables, delivers the very best eating experience to customers. However, it has complex effects that result in lowering the shelf life and decreasing the sensitivity and quality of the farm produce.

“In products like fruits, ethylene is released as the chlorophyll, degrading as an enzyme, a molecule within that produces which definitely degrades, and when rates arrive, taking markets like China, which are very discerning of this type of quality, can ultimately lower the return,” he added.

As an optimum solution for allowing ethylene to be intelligently managed, removed, or blocked, the UK-based technological company demonstrated areas at their stand to see the products maintaining their temperature and shelf life even if delayed being shipped. This enables precise control of the amount of ethylene present and ensures that produce reaches the market in optimum condition.

“Our technology product is a very impressive looking product that looks a bit like an essay sheet, and the plastic sheet has an active ingredient inside. You can shake it, and it would almost sound like a percussion instrument.”

“What we’ve worked really hard to do is bring that product and the promise of that product into a new generation that is 10 times as effective but worth through a range of temperatures that can work up to 95 per cent relative humidity inside a container and continue working all the way to the customer to the consumer or retail shelf edge,” Mr. Jon commented.

It’s Fresh! Ethylene Control stands as an ideal solution for quality assurance of products and flexibility in the global market. It delivers precisely the right level of ethylene control to ensure that the product arrives in the best possible condition, even if delayed in transit.

The firm secured a £6.7 million investmenint in April last year, led by BGF and German venture capital fund Zintinus, alongside existing investor Praesidium.

Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Burntwood, Staffordshire,.

Food waste is a significant economic cost to society, with the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation estimating the cost of global food waste to be $940 billion, while also accounting for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Fresh produce is a large contributor to global food waste, with some estimates claiming 40-50% of fresh food is wasted from harvest to post-purchase, with long storage and transit times accounting for a considerable portion of these losses.


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