Costco introduces longer-lasting avocados

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Imagine waking up in the morning to find your smashed avocado-on-toast breakfast in tatters because your favourite overpriced fruit has gone bad! Fortunately, help could be at hand.

That’s because Costco stores in the US are now selling avocados treated with a plant-derived coating that is claimed to make them last longer.

California-based startup Apeel Sciences has invented an edible coating that food suppliers can spray on their produce before shipping it to grocers.

The coating acts as an extra peel, which Apeel claims will double an avocado’s shelf life, allowing it to travel further and give consumers more time to east it.

The coating is made of leftover plant skins and stems, which acts as a barrier that slows the decay process. After the coating dries, it locks in moisture and acts as a shield against the natural gases (i.e. oxygen and ethylene) that make avocados ripen.

The formula is stated to differ for each fruit or vegetable. Slicing open an Apeel avocado will break the shield, and at that point it will brown just as fast as a normal avocado.

Head of marketing at Apeel, Michelle Masek, explained: “Nature has had an elegant solution to spoilage for a long time—the peel. Made from the same materials found in every bite of fruit we eat, Apeel adds a little extra protection to the fruit’s skin so that it stays fresh and delicious longer, which lessens the likelihood of you having to throw your avocados away.”

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Apeel’s first products as “generally recognised as safe” meaning that they’re considered safe to eat and sell. They will also cost the same as any other conventionally-grown avocados.

Apeel CEO, James Rogers, told Business Insider that: “Refrigeration has been used to increase produce quality during transportation and storage, but you lose the benefit of refrigeration when a fruit sits on a grocery store shelf or on a kitchen counter.

“With our technology, we’re able to dramatically reduce the rate that clock is ticking.”

The coating could help stores and farmers reduce waste from produce that has ripened too quickly and in turn save them money by discarding fewer spoiled avocados, Mr Rogers said.

Avocado prices coming down

The days of paying $6 to $7 apiece for avocados are over, for now at least. With growers in Queensland seeing one of their biggest crops in recent years, prices across Australia have dropped to as low as just 99 cents each.

The average supermarket retail price is a modest $1.80 – but even that price could soon be slashed.

Paul Joseph, the managing director of a Brisbane-based fruit and vegetable wholesaler, Alfred E Chave, said they have not seen prices as low as they currently are in a long time.

“For the consumer it means there will be a lot of multi-buys, at the moment it’s four avocados for $3 at some retailers,” Mr Joseph said.

He said this year’s Hass avocado fruit size was bigger and of high quality due to good growing conditions.

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