CHICAGO, IL – Hazel Technologies Inc., a USDA-funded technology company delivering new solutions for fresh produce to extend shelf-life, increase sales, and fight food waste, announces new USDA-funding for a packaging technology which protects the quality of potatoes. The technology may also have applications for some types of onions.
The technology, dubbed Hazel Root™, is a packaging insert, placed in a bulk box or bin of potatoes or onions during storage following harvest, which prevents the sprouting process from starting prematurely. According to BestFoodFacts.org, potatoes sprout because the high starch content begins to convert to sugar prematurely, causing a sprout to grow on the potato.
According to the USDA, sprouting exceeding 10% of the total surface area of the potato qualifies a potato as “damaged” and not only reduces the commercial value of a potato but also contributes to food waste, as the potato is less likely to be consumed. Furthermore, consumers frequently confuse sprouting with decay and throw away produce that has grown sprouts.
The Hazel Root™ technology will work by slowly releasing an active ingredient which slows the growth of sprouts using natural biological processes. Hazel Root™ will be usable on both conventional and organic potatoes. The USDA grant funding was made possible through the SBIR (Small Business Innovation and Research) program. This fund helps support new technologies that may substantially benefit the future of US agriculture, and requires a USDA technical review as well as recommendations from stakeholders in the produce industry.
“Potatoes are the 3rd most consumed crop in the world, after rice and wheat. Over 1 billion people worldwide regularly consume potatoes,” said Adam Preslar, CTO & Co-Founder of Hazel Technologies, “In developing solutions for the largest food categories in the world, we can make the greatest strides toward reducing global food waste at the largest scale.”
Hazel Technologies, which has traditionally focused on fresh fruit items, was founded in 2015 and works with over 150 of the largest growers, packers, and retailers of fresh produce in the world. This funding is the fourth USDA grant Hazel has received through the USDA SBIR program since 2016, bringing total USDA funding to $900,000.
“SBIR is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to enhance crop production in both conventional and organic systems by creating and commercializing engineering technologies that enhance system efficiency and profitability” commented Kelly Sprute, Editor at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA (NIFA), in an email release.
About Hazel Technologies, Inc.:
Hazel Technologies is a USDA-funded startup company that develops new solutions to extend the quality shelf life of fresh produce and reduce food waste. Founded in 2015, Hazel Tech® services over 150 of the world’s largest fresh produce packers, shippers, and retailers. Selected as a Finalist for Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas and winner of “Best Sustainable Packaging”; at the 2020 World Food Innovation Awards, the company’s patent-pending technologies have been tested by top academic research programs including UC Davis, Cornell University, and Oregon State University. In 2020, Hazel is on track to be used with over 3.2 billion pounds of fresh produce, preventing more than 270 million pounds from going to waste.
For more information, visit www.hazeltechnologies.com.
About the USDA:
The United States Department of Agriculture, also known as the Agriculture Department, is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, and food.
For more information, visit www.usda.gov.