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When this author first started “adulting”, a strong memory that stands out is loading the grocery trolley with fresh fruits and vegetables. Buying fruits and vegetables maintains the illusion to the outer world that you are a responsible and capable adult. You pay your bills on time, and you’ve never forgotten to stock up on toilet paper (cue Australia during the pandemic).

You get home, stock up the fridge with rainbow goodness, and stand back admiring your ‘adult achievement’. A chunk of your paycheck went to healthy food (and a part will go to the pizza you order tonight). But my oh my, the harsh reality hits when you realize how fast your luscious fruits and veggies spoil. I guarantee that every person reading this has guiltily thrown away bad and untouched produce at one point in their lives. And what’s worse, the days between that grocery shop and binning it wasn’t even that long.

So here are some facts that made VNF wake up and take action, and I hope it will for you too:

2021 was (and still is) a bad year for World Hunger – much of it related to the fallouts caused by COVID-19. Today, the UN aggregates 957 million people do not have enough to eat.

While worldwide hunger continues to rise, an estimated 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption (1.3 billion tonnes) is being lost or wasted – costing the global economy close to $940 billion each year.

Of this, almost 50% of all fruit and vegetables produced are wasted predominantly due to post-harvest losses – that’s 3.7 trillion apples. But also, take a step back and remember it’s not just edible food wasted. Consider all the resources required to bring food from the farm to your table: water for irrigation, land for planting, fuel for powering harvest and transport vehicles.

Did you know the production of just one apple requires an average of 125 litres of water? That means throwing away a rotten apple is akin to pouring 125 L of water down the drain.

To put it simply, there is enough food on the planet to feed everyone. What we’re lacking is a universal commitment to protect our finite environmental resources to share with all. Moreover, with the world’s population expected to swell to 9.8 billion by 2050 and where food consumption is at its highest, it is ever more vital to tackle these issues threatening food security.

So what is VNF doing about it?

Food threats to fresh produce include pests, diseases, and incorrect storage conditions – all of which must be overcome before fruit and vegetables can reach consumers. Globalisation has also profoundly influenced the history of fruit. Everything is available everywhere in this ever more networked world – Vietnamese mangos in the US and Australian oranges in Japan. This means longer supply chains, changing climates from one country to another…overall, even more opportunity for post-harvest decay. On top of this, fruits have individual biological processes post-harvest: ripening, weight loss, decline of texture, color – altogether leading to rotting and, consequently, your kitchen bin.

Commonly, chemical agents are used to coat post-harvest – think fungicides, chlorine, formalin, sulphites…. However, chemicals pose harmful effects to the environment (especially when managed poorly) and health risks when consumed by humans. ‘When you choose to eat strawberries, the only dipping you should be considering is Chocolate – not Chlorine.’

Physical storage methods, including refrigerated containers and controlled atmospheric packaging, exist and are safe for end-users but come at a high cost. Similarly, biochemicals (lysozymes, polyphenols) are natural products but are unpopular and costly. Generally, these methods focus on covering the journey from the farm. But what about the protection needed to preserve the fruit’s life until consumed?  

Thus, ‘what hope does a Vietnamese mango have to survive its 4-week journey to the US and into your stomach?’ Much like our recent articles, we’re shouting from the rooftops for a safe, sustainable, effective, and affordable post-harvest solution (and also for a cure to COVID).

THE SOLUTION: “Enter”..drumroll please….“CHITOSAN.”

4 Linkedin articles (and 2 lockdowns) later, I hope you’ve remembered the 3Bs of Chitosan: ‘BIOFRIENDLY, BIODEGRADABLE, & ANTIBACTERIAL’. It’s undeniable that all fruits need protection from the moment they’re harvested until they reach your plate. So the least we can do is demand a non-toxic solution that won’t harm our health in the long term.

With Chitosan, rest assured it is a safe and edible packaging for fruits. (After all, Chitosan is FDA-approved for food and health applications.) Beneficial for humans and mother nature, Chitosan is an effective post-harvest protector to extend the shelf life, quality, texture, and appearance of fruits – from the farm, journeying across the oceans, and into your fridge.


This is because, as a natural polymer, Chitosan has a unique film-forming ability. Through dipping and spraying the fruit with Chitosan, the Chitosan will then form a selective semi-permeable film. This membrane then acts as a modified atmospheric package, regulating the fruit’s oxygen and carbonic oxide content. As a result, the natural processes of the fruit:

  • Ripening will delay, due to inhibition of ethylene production and respiration rate
  • Losing weight and shrinking will reduce, due to water transmission reduction
  • Damaging will lessen, as the Chitosan barrier prevents invasion of harmful bacteria and fungi

Overall, as always, we admit the problem of post-harvest fruit loss won’t be solved by one product. But in the wise words of Sir David Attenborough: “the one thing we can all do is stop waste”. So here’s looking at you: CHITOSAN.