Up to 40 per cent of all picked fruit can be lost during its journey from harvest to supermarket to kitchen table, which can represent a loss of billions of dollars for the global food economy.
To ease this loss, University of Guelph researchers have discovered that hexanal, naturally produced by plants to ward off pests, slows down the aging process of fruit as well. Their findings are improving the lives of farmers and helping consumers make better choices about their fruit purchases, contributing to less food waste.
University researchers partnered with farmers and communities across Canada and five other countries to test nine hexanal technologies, such as sprays, post-harvest dips, fruit wraps and stickers.
When applied as a pre-harvest spray, hexanal keeps fruit on trees longer (reducing the amount of fruit falling before harvest by 40 per cent) and helps farmers delay their harvests. This means that mango farmers in India, for example, didn’t have to sell their mangos during the seasonal market glut, but could sell them slightly later, resulting in a higher selling price.
Similarly, fruit that is dipped in hexanal after harvest remains fresh for between three and four weeks longer. Fruit can then be picked and shipped to its destinations, arriving in better condition and contributing to less loss.
For consumers, hexanal means fresher fruit, improvements in flavour and less wasted money.
These technologies are economical, safe and beneficial approaches that can be harnessed as part of reducing global food waste.
To read more about hexanal, visit the University of Guelph.