Novozymes and AgroFresh Partnership to Help Cut Food Waste

Dual logos

In the spirit of “waste not, want not,” two food-focused companies are working together to find sustainable solutions that keep foods fresher, longer, after harvest and reduce product loss.

Novozymes – the world’s largest industrial biotechnology company – and agricultural technology innovator AgroFresh are forming a strategic research and commercialization partnership to use biologics to fight fungal diseases. The goal is to develop environmentally friendly after-harvest applications that increase food quality, while decreasing waste.

Food loss is a serious problem. The companies report that about one-third of all the food produced is lost or wasted before it ever gets to consumers. Fruits and vegetables account for more than half the total. These and other fresh crops – including flowers – are particularly vulnerable to microbial attack during the post-harvest stage of production, which includes cooling, cleaning, sorting, and packing.

“This is a very exciting venture into a groundbreaking area for Novozymes – with the intention to satisfy an increasing consumer demand for fruits and vegetables with less food waste and less impact on the environment,” said Thomas Stenfeldt Batchelor, Novozymes vice president for agriculture marketing & strategy.

Testing fruit in an AgroFresh research lab. -- AgroFresh photos
Testing fruit in an AgroFresh research lab. -- AgroFresh photos

Novozymes, headquartered in Denmark, has a significant presence in North Carolina. It maintains its North American headquarters in Franklinton and an R&D facility in the Research Triangle, employing around 900 people in the state. It is the world’s largest provider of enzyme and microbial technologies targeted at agriculture and a variety of other industries including homecare, industrial cleaning, and beverage ingredients.

Philadelphia-based AgroFresh supports growers, packers, and retailers with plant-based coatings, equipment and other solutions that improve the quality and extend the shelf life of fresh produce. The innovation that led to the formation of AgroFresh was first discovered and patented at North Carolina State University in 1994.

Novozymes and AgroFresh said their partnership should speed up the development of new, sustainable bioproducts. They highlight the combination of Novozymes’ advanced biotechnologies and AgroFresh’s post-harvest experience, its global footprint, and portfolio of integrated solutions to help maintain the freshness and quality of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

AgroFresh will lead the commercialization of any new products the two companies develop.

“This is an exciting partnership between two industry leaders that both have a strong history in North Carolina and with the potential to accomplish two increasingly important goals,” said Paul Ulanch, Ph.D., executive director of the crop commercialization program at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. “First, improving food quality and reducing waste are so important to continue feeding a growing global population. And second, these companies are introducing environmentally friendly ways of doing so.”

Duncan Aust, AgoFresh’s chief technology officer, pointed out that “AgroFresh and Novozymes share very similar missions around sustainability and the introduction of differentiated technologies to address unmet needs across the food chain.”

“We are excited to partner with Novozymes,” he said, “to pioneer the use of biological solutions in the post-harvest sector to reduce food loss and waste and help improve the quality of our food system overall.”

Bryant Haskins, NCBiotech Writer
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