Nabaco®, a robust startup committed to reducing food waste and food insecurity, has created a revolutionary fresh produce coating technology, NatuWrap®, that excels beyond other existing coating technologies. This discovery lengthens produce longevity; increases grower, packer and retailer profitability; reduces waste; and improves fresh food availability around the world.
The science behind Nabaco, which led to the invention of NatuWrap, began in 2015 with Dr. Gary W. Beall, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas State University and now Founder and CEO of Nabaco. Two of his students, Dr. Ray Cook and Dr. Maedah Dabbaghianamiri, assisted him with his research.
Originally developing a layer-by-layer nanocomposite coating, Nabaco first started by trying to create a cost-effective food packaging. However, they soon discovered that a layer-by-layer process is tedious — requiring many steps of dipping, rinsing and drying each layer.
The research team also discovered that certain combinations of specific polymers and clay nanoparticles will self-assemble into a highly ordered nanocomposite barrier film. This self-assembly can be done in one step and yields a film that has the same performance as layer-by-layer.
“We discovered that when you combine those, they will self-assemble into what we might call a ‘brick wall’ around the fruit, which makes it difficult for water to get out and for oxygen and mold to get in,” Beall said. “If you compare that to most other coating companies, the other companies are simply making the peel thicker, but gasses can still directly go in and out. Our product is about 50 times more efficient than any other coating.”
NatuWrap’s transparent coating is tasteless and odorless and maintains the natural appearance of the fruit. NatuWrap improves shelf life and can be used on organic food.
With the main components of NatuWrap already listed for human consumption on the Food and Drug Administration’s Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) list, Nabaco decided to concentrate their research on directly applying the self-assembling coating to various fruits and vegetables including grapes, avocados, apples, pears and more.
Working with growers and packers across the globe, Nabaco is conducting trials on a variety of produce. Growers and packers can easily integrate NatuWrap into their current processes. According to Beall, NatuWrap can be applied to fruits and vegetables through sprays, dipping or brushing methods, based on the requirements of the specific produce and the process of the growers and packers. Overall, NatuWrap requires little in capital equipment acquisition and no additional staff, facilities or management.
“Using NatuWrap in growers’ pre-existing processes is one of the things Nabaco prides itself on,” Beall said. “For instance, grapes are harvested from the vineyard and field packed. We have found that we can go up to the day before harvest with a spray applicator, apply our coating to the grapes on the vine and they harvest normally. NatuWrap does not interrupt their normal operation at all.”
Beall believes Nabaco is superior because of the technology their team offers, their integration into the supply chain and their overall cost-effectiveness.
Vice President of Sales at Nabaco, Kevin Frye, said Nabaco uses “smart sustainability” at the company and in its products.
“Everybody wants to reduce waste at an affordable cost,” Frye said. “For Nabaco, the ability to extend the shelf life of produce can easily become cost-justified, therefore, it becomes smart sustainability and it makes sense. We have a vision to be able to help underdeveloped countries improve their food security and supply chain.”
Board of Directors member, Craig Stephen, joined Nabaco’s team to help solve big issues within the industry, including global issues as well as food waste and food insecurity.
“Food waste is a big issue. Not only is there food going to waste that should be eaten, but there is also a huge economic impact on the growers and suppliers,” Stephen said. NatuWrap components and manufacturing costs total less than 20% of other produce coatings. In addition to these lower costs, NatuWrap versatility and ease of implementation help increase return on investment (ROI) for users of the coating.
“Because of the way the product is manufactured to work, it’s very economical for suppliers and distributors. We don’t want to add a huge additional cost to the process, just to extend shelf life. Growers and suppliers can see the ROI right away,” Stephen said.
Stephen is excited to see Nabaco revolutionize the industry and commercialize NatuWrap for growers, suppliers, and retailers. Ultimately, Stephen and the entire Nabaco team are passionate about giving more people access to healthy foods and cutting down on food waste and food insecurity through revolutionary sustainability efforts.
“Healthy eating shouldn’t be a privilege. We should all have access to healthy foods,” Stephen said.
Originally published at https://fruitgrowersnews.com/article/revolutionizing-fresh-produce-nabaco-natuwrap/.