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Israeli Company’s Technology Extends Shelf Life of Produce

Wal-Mart, SunPacific, Pepsico, FritoLay and BASF are testing Pimi Agro CleanTech’s technology to keep food from rotting before reaching the market. Nimrod Ben-Yehuda is on a mission: to feed millions of starving children worldwide. Not, the lifelong farmer explains, by producing more food, but by dramatically cutting wastage on route to the consumer.

The company he founded 15 years ago, Pimi Agro CleanTech, has a unique, environmentally friendly line of products to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for as long as 10 weeks, drastically reducing deterioration during transport.

About one-third of food never makes it to the marketplace; in developing countries the figure is usually higher. Spoilage, disease and transportation issues whittle away producers’ and marketers’ profits – and raise consumer prices.

“Before being sold, all produce is sorted. Thirty percent gets thrown away, and what’s left hardly lasts a day before being replaced,” says Ben-Yehuda, who dates his concern back to his days as a teenaged kibbutznik working in the fields.

“I was amazed at the amount of fruit and vegetables thrown away in the packing stations. I saw piles of rotting peppers and tomatoes — meanwhile children are going hungry. It’s crazy!”

Already his young mind was working on a solution.

“The critical period is from the time the fruit is picked to when it begins to rot,” Ben-Yehuda tells ISRAEL21c. “Take a single eggplant, for example. We cut it from its lifeline when we pick it. It’s all alone, and has to survive. Inside, its body systems weaken; it uses up all its sugars and goes into stress, with telltale signs. The fruit rots because it’s weak inside.” (via Israel21c)

[Photo: Dungodung/Wikimedia Commons]