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Innovative, sustainable and globally unique storage method for food preservation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EcoFoil (Innovative, sustainable and globally unique storage method for food preservation)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2020-04-30

"""Man is what he eats."" - Foods such as potatoes, carrots and vegetables are used to feed people, i.e. to supply them with energy and vitamins. A conscious and healthy diet is becoming increasingly important in today's society. In this context, the availability and maintenance of healthy food is a key issue. For example, many staple foods (e.g. carrots, potatoes) can only be harvested seasonally or in certain geographical regions due to climatic conditions. However, the consumer wants to have access to such goods all year round.

In order for the market to meet the demands of the final consumer, basic foodstuffs must be preserved for as long as possible i.e. natural dormancy must be delayed. Germs are not only unattractive, they also make the food unfit for consumption, which is why the formation of germs during storage must be suppressed. Preservation is achieved with the help of chemicals. All over the world, germicides are sprayed onto food after harvesting. Germ inhibitors are based on chemicals such as chlorpropham (CIPC, banned in Europe since 2019) or 1,4. dimethylnaphthalene to prevent cell division / sprouting. Studies on herbicides have shown that these agents have long-term negative health effects. Chlorpropham is suspected of being carcinogenic. It is also harmful to the environment, especially to aquatic organisms.

Our new product EcoFoil addresses the problem of the use of germination inhibitors. It is a new systematic approach to the storage of food. With a depot foil, we want to change the system of storing basic foodstuffs. The idea is based on a newly developed film that contains the active ingredient as a depot. Through air circulation, the active ingredient emerges from the depot foil in a contact-free, controlled, constant and economical manner. In addition to the contactless release of the active ingredient to the basic foodstuff, a further advantage of the process is the low effort required, as the film only has to be applied once per storage period. It remains in place until the end of the storage period and is removed on site. There is no odour nuisance, the risk potential for warehouse workers is considerably reduced and the warehouses are accessible at all times. The film is simply hung over the stored food. The use of chemicals is reduced by 95%. By partially replacing the chemicals with other natural agents such as mint or caraway oil, harmful agents can be dispensed with completely in the future. The SME Phase 1 had the goal of a feasibility study for the market launch of EcoFoil.

As a result of the feasibility analysis, an economic, political and legal feasibility of project implementation was established. In terms of organisation and resources, a number of prerequisites for broad international establishment were defined within se ma, which now must be implemented. A sales and marketing department has yet to be established within the company. The further planning of the increase in production capacity will be carried out together with a contract manufacturer in order to have the necessary resources available for a European market launch, especially in the initial phase."
Work carried out as part of the feasibility study included:

• Market analysis: overall market, market segmentation, market barriers
• Potential analysis/business area analysis, evaluation of market positioning
• Presentation of business areas, strengthening of relationships with existing partners
• Business model approach: subscription price model
• Analysis of strengths and weaknesses
• Implementation plan

The new technology is primarily aimed at the entire food industry, where storage is a relevant issue. For many end consumers, dispensing with chemicals in food products is a key purchasing argument for which they are prepared to pay more. At the same time, in view of the health hazards posed by pesticide residues, the use of chemicals in storage is increasingly being questioned by regulators and their limit value is being reduced or, as in the case of Chlorpropham, banned altogether.

As things stand at present, EcoFoil will initially enter the conventional market for potatoes. In the short term, Se ma intends to launch the EcoFoil depot film for conventional potatoes in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and France with a volume of up to 20 million square meters of film. In the medium term, a high sales potential is to be targeted with an organic depot film both for the organic potato sector and for the conventional sector. A parallel market entry for other basic foodstuffs is possible depending on the market situation.
The core innovation is the depot film itself with its unique feature of storing the germicidal active ingredient and distributing it evenly through the air as needed. The difference to the common method of fogging is that the depot foil has no direct contact with the food. The active ingredient is released from the depot foil continuously and without contact through the air circulation. The air-active ingredient mixture surrounds the food evenly and penetrates the entire storage space. Only approx. 1 m² film is required per ton of food, i.e. the effectiveness is very high.

The EcoFoil system is described in detail below:
1. In the upper part of a warehouse, the depot foil is attached contactless above the food pile.
2. An existing air circulation in the warehouse ensures that the germ-inhibiting active ingredient molecules are carried away from the depot foil. The active ingredient slowly accumulates in small doses in the circulating air. An air/active substance mixture is formed.
3. The air/active ingredient mixture circulates evenly around the warehouse or storage room. It surrounds the food to be stored, penetrating the entire storage stack.
4. Fresh air must be supplied in regular intervals during storage, as in the case of conventional methods.

The film composite consists of a base film and an intermediate adhesive layer containing the active ingredient, as well as a vacuum-perforated cover film. The cover film contains microholes through which the active ingredient is evenly distributed in minimal concentration to the stored foodstuff via the air circulation.

Thanks to the new storage technology of using a depot foil, fruit, vegetables and basic foodstuffs remain fresh, healthier and more sustainable. In addition, the active ingredients can be exchanged as desired. This innovative technology thus creates the conditions for the development of a whole product range of depot films, depending on which fruit or vegetables are to be stored. The ecological pressure from end consumers, the cost pressure from storage companies, the increased environmental awareness and the competence of employees all speak in favour of using EcoFoil. The new technology is aimed at the entire food industry, where storage is an important issue. For many end users, the treatment of food without chemicals is an important purchase argument. We want to promote the trend in Europe to further reduce or completely avoid pesticide residues in food by using the depot foil and make a contribution to sustainable and healthy food.
Demonstration EcoFoil
Structure scheme EcoFoil