News | May 19, 1999

Edible Waxed Coating Prolongs Shelf-life of Tropical Fruits

Trade in tropical fruits is limited owing to their inherent short shelf life. Realizing this, Zagro Asia - an agri-based company engaged in formulation, marketing and distribution activities around the Asia-Pacific region - aims to assist the tropical fruit industry with its BioCoat 188 product. The edible, non-carcinogenic wax-based substance contains essentially food ingredients (all ingredients are listed in the code of federal regulations; Food and Drugs Administration, Chapter 21, Part 170-199) with no coloring or preservatives added.

Zagro believes the coating is especially well suited to tropical fresh produce. In preliminary experiments with banana, mango and papaya, fruits dipped in the coating and held at room temperature remained green up to 15 days - long after control fruit had ripened and gone bad.

Fruits and vegetables are living organisms, which contain 80-90% water by weight. An important factor to deterioration of fresh produce is loss of moisture and dry matter loss due to transpiration and respiration, which cause large quantities of post-harvest losses to farmers, traders and consumers in all countries. Building on existing post-harvest technologies (CA, MA, MAP, refrigeration) as a key preservation hurdle in the Asian context, BIOCoat 188 was developed using exclusively food-approved ingredients that are harmless to humans and the environment.

BIOCoat 188 is applied as a post-harvest dip, spray or wipe. It dries to form an invisible coating, which is odorless and tasteless. It forms a differentially permeable edible barrier to oxygen and carbon dioxide. In this way a modified atmosphere (MA) of reduced oxygen and slightly raised carbon dioxide is created. This MA enhances the physicochemical and microbiological stability of fruits during post-harvest storage, distribution and marketing.

"It is possible that a wholesaler would want to use the coating to extend the life of the fruit, or even a retailer who ended up with too much fruit for a given sales period", said Poh Beng Swee, CEO, Zagro Asia Group.

Importantly, BIOCoat 188 coating allows produce to move into the normal post-harvest chain without the need for special storage, therefore freight cost is reduced due to the elimination of ice and use of sea freight versus air. This allows maximum exposure of produce to markets that otherwise are unreachable with the existing storage and transportation technology (in the Asian context).

For more information contact Zagro Singapore Pte Ltd., Zagro Asia Building, 5, Woodlands Terrace, Woodlands East Industrial Estate, Singapore 783430. Tel: (65) 7591811. Fax: (65) 7591866.