“It’s unacceptable for strawberry growers to destroy their crops,” said Dan Sztybel, CEO of Save Foods’ Israel subsidiary. Save Foods is a US agri-food technology company that provides sustainable solutions to preserve the freshness and quality of food over time.
Sztybel is referring to the current situation in Germany. While the fruits are particularly sweet and plentiful this year due to the sunny weather, the plentiful supply is offset by relatively weak demand. The Association of Southern German Asparagus and Strawberry Growers, for example, speaks of up to 30 percent fewer sales.
On the consumer side, inflation is causing many people to save on fruit and vegetables. Or they reach for imported goods in the supermarket, for example from Spain. Since the production costs there are significantly lower, German farmers cannot keep up in terms of price. According to the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Agriculture, the farmer currently receives just under one euro and one cent for a 500-gram bowl of strawberries – and thus pays more.
Since the harvest is unprofitable, farmers from Münsterland didn’t even harvest the fruit or chopped it directly. The donation of strawberries to charitable organizations such as the Tafel simply fails due to the high labor and transport costs. After all, fuel costs have risen significantly since the Ukraine war.
“Five times more strawberries stay fresh than conventionally produced ones”
In addition, strawberries are particularly perishable. In the US alone, more than 60 percent is usually lost after harvest, explains Dan Sztybel. In numbers, that means a $1.2 to $1.2 to $1.4 billion default. This is where Save Foods comes in.
The company, which has been listed on the US high-tech stock exchange Nasdaq since May 2021 (ISIN: US80512Q3039), has developed an environmentally friendly and cost-effective process to extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables and at the same time prevent contamination with pathogens. Treated with a unique blend of food acids and oxidants, the fruit will keep in the refrigerated section at four degrees for thirteen days and then on the supermarket shelf for two days. “This means that five times more strawberries stay fresh than untreated ones,” explains Sztybel. Citrus fruits, mangoes, avocados, bananas, or asparagus as well as other sensitive types of fruit and vegetables also retain their quality with the biologically sustainable methods of preserving food from Save Foods.
In May, Save Foods received certification for the American organic market. Sztybel hopes to get German farmers interested in Save Foods’ ecologically sustainable and cost-saving products. “As regulators and retailers across Europe move towards a zero-tolerance policy on pesticide residues, we are seeing a rapidly growing interest from exporters in Europe asking for pilot projects,” says the CEO of Save Foods. He emphasizes that the track record of previous pilots that has resulted in paying customers is 100 percent.
Since treating fruit and vegetables with Save Foods reduces waste, more fresh produce reaches the market that would otherwise spoil. Or in other words: goods that first have to be produced and then disposed of at great expense. The improved supply is also suitable for stabilizing prices. This means that strawberries are once again affordable for all consumers. Thanks to Save Foods treatment of the crops, more farmers are also able to export their products and thus expand their market reach. Ultimately, the Save Foods process is just as producer-friendly as it is consumer-friendly and environmentally friendly.
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