To make fresh fruits last longer, a University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)-based inventor manufactured an alternative to petroleum wax coatings, now available from local startup HS InnoTech Inc. (HSII).
Veronica Sabularse and Hidelisa Hernandez, the inventors of Fruitect, said their technology, which is derived from peels and leaves, is a solution to two common agricultural problems: how to extend postharvest life and the use of agricultural waste.
The inventors who also founded HSII said Fruitect consists of agricultural waste-derived edible coating formulations that delay the ripening of mangoes and bananas.
They explained that Carabao mangoes stored at room temperature (28 to 31 degrees Celsius) turn ripe and sweet five to six days after harvesting; but when mangoes are coated with Fruitect, the fruits ripen after 10 or more days.
At cooler storage temperatures, the Fruitect-coated fruits ripen after 20 days.
The inventors also noted that Lakatan bananas stored at room temperature turn ripe and ready to eat six or more days after harvesting, while bananas coated with Fruitect start to ripen after 20 days.
By preserving the freshness of fruits sold to consumers, the technology promises better earnings and improved livelihood for local farmers.
Now exploring ways to cut production costs, HSII said Fruitect will also be available as a wettable powder for easier packaging, distribution and longer shelf life.
Glenn Gregorio, director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), supported HSII with its Grants for Research toward Agricultural Innovative Solutions (GRAINS).
Starter funds for long-term livelihood
SEARCA GRAINS offers short-term starter funds for collaborative actions aimed at transformative innovations for more sustainable agriculture and rural development across Southeast Asia.
In 2022, Gregorio said SEARCA GRAINS was awarded to HSII to start the operation of its pilot plant located in UPLB, Los Baños, Laguna which will produce Fruitect in liquid form, making it convenient for direct application on whole fresh fruits.
The grant funded the fabrication of support structures and test runs to produce up to 300 liters of Fruitect.
Gregorio noted the impact of the Fruitect technology, emphasizing that the "nature-based coating technology significantly contributes to reducing food wastage and preserving fruit exports."
Also providing initial funding for the development of Fruitect was the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DoST-Pcieerd).
The DoST-Pcieerd's support aimed to leverage nanotechnology in the creation of innovative materials intended for commercial use.
HSII has announced that it is ready to sell its Fruitect formulation for Carabao mangoes. Fruitect for Lakatan bananas will also be for sale soon.