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Arcadia Biosciences & Shriram Bioseed develops Extended Shelf Life Tomatoes

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

The Fresh Tomatoes always attract with their colour. Round shaped, shining red, sturdy and good aroma are few of the criteria which every piece needs to pass to be categorized as fresh. There are 16 such parameter which determine the freshness of the tomatoes, which falls in both the fruit and vegetable basket. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, raw or cooked or as ketchup or sauce. Loved by the chefs, tomatoes enhance the taste of every vegetable.

There are more than 3000 varieties of tomatoes available in the world and only 1500 are known, out of which, the most prominent ones are 100, which are known by numerous names.

Though the problem with the vegetable is with its shelf life. The shelf life of tomatoes is very short and the ones which surpass the shelf life loses taste and quality. The shelf life of the tomatoes depends on the variety and the place from which it belongs. The tomatoes from Shimla have good shelf life. Some have 3-4 days shelf life and the other varieties can be shelved for about 6-7 days.

Increasing the shelf life of the tomatoes, is one thing which has been targeted by the breeders and scientists for a long time. The Post harvest technologies are the answer to these queries.

Good news is that, Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., an agricultural food ingredient company, and Shriram Bioseed, a leading research and hybrid seed development company, announced the achievement of a key milestone in developing Extended Shelf Life (ESL) tomatoes.

Bioseed has field tested Arcadia’s ESL technology in multiple tomato hybrid backgrounds in multiple locations and seasons. Significant and consistent improvements in field yield and fruit quality, such as firmness, shelf life and color development, were observed. These new hybrids are in the pre-commercial, wide area field testing stage with anticipated launch in 2019.

Using a non-GM advanced screening and breeding technique called TILLING, Arcadia identified genetic variations that allow tomatoes to fully ripen on the vine, yet still remain durable enough to survive the packing and shipping process.

Arcadia’s ESL technology was developed in part under a U.S. Department of Defense contract to develop longer-lasting fresh produce for field troops stationed in remote locations. Arcadia received a patent for the technology in 2014.

“These new varieties will reduce waste and spoilage in the production cycle while ensuring that the produce is fully ripe, better tasted, and still fresh when it reaches consumers,” said Raj Ketkar, President and CEO of Arcadia. “This development is a significant commercial milestone in advancing Arcadia’s ESL tomato technology that adds value throughout the tomato supply chain, from farm to consumers.”

“This trait is especially valuable in a country like India where fresh market tomatoes are mostly field grown and post-harvest handling and logistics are challenging,” said Paresh Verma, President of Bioseed Southeast Asia and research director for Shriram Bioseed. “Besides reducing post harvest losses, extended shelf life and improved field holding capacity of tomatoes will add tremendous value for farmers and other stakeholders in supply chain.”

Because of their perishable nature, many harvested fresh fruits and vegetables spoil and become food waste instead of being consumed. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in the U.S. alone, food waste costs households an estimated $166 billion annually, and tomato food waste costs households $2.3 billion annually. These numbers are small compared to the lost value in the supply chain worldwide. An estimated 20 to 35 percent of tomatoes on an average are lost to post-harvest damage in Asia. As the fourth largest producer of tomatoes globally, India represents a significant market opportunity for ESL tomato technology.

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