April 7, 2022The idea behind Sufresca began as a friendly bet between two scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Today, it’s a promising Israeli startup with a cheaper, simpler way to cut down on billions of dollars of food waste and help wean the world off plastic packaging.
An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide are tossed into the garbage each year, making food waste an economic and environmental scourge. Around half of all fresh fruit and vegetables are lost or wasted, much of it damaged in transit or spoiled before purchase.

Amos Nussinovitch, a professor at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the Hebrew University, was studying edible coatings – that invisible layer of wax or other material applied to produce to extend shelf life and protect it during transport.

“I bet you can’t do peppers,” said a colleague. The vegetable’s high water content means it shrivels quickly and loses nutrients. It has been tough to develop a coating that will adhere to its smooth, shiny surface.

It took several years of research, but Prof. Nussinovitch finally won the bet, coming up with a formula that could protect the highly perishable pepper. Later, he added formulations for other fruits and vegetables. The entire process took 15 years.

His discovery became the basis for Sufresca, a startup nurtured by Yissum, the technology transfer unit of the Hebrew University. The company has raised $4 million since it was founded in 2020 and has secured EU and FDA approvals for its coatings. Its products are undergoing trials in Mexico, and the company plans to bring them to market in 2023.

Read the entire original article in the Times of Israel here.