Fruit protecting fruit: Swiss firm develops edible produce coating from juice industry waste


In Switzerland, a research group has developed an edible, plant-based coating for produce, which a major supermarket chain in the country will soon begin testing. 

Empa developed the coating at its Cellulose & Wood Materials Library by converting pomace—what is left after juice is extracted from fruits and vegetables—into a cellulose fiber that can be applied to produce marked for sale. The film can be eaten or washed off, and both extends shelf life and protects produce with long supply chains from damage.

“With our research, we are pursuing the circular concept and bringing waste materials a new added value under the motto ‘Carrot protects cucumber’,” Tanja Zimmermann, member of Empa’s Executive Board tells Packaging Europe. “In this way, we prevent food waste, require fewer petroleum-based packaging materials and thus contribute to decarbonization.”  

Empa began developing the coating in 2019, and has partnered with Lidl Switzerland to test the material at 150 Lidl locations across the country.