Penn Students ‘Hack’ Fruit to Save Billions of Dollars in Food Waste

By December 12, 2019December 18th, 2019News Posts

Two Pennsylvania University students have developed a technology that can predict when apples and other fresh fruit in storage are ripening and ready for the grocery store. Their aim is to help reduce food waste and the risk of apple spoilage by over $10 billion per year.

reduce food wasteKatherine Sizov and Malika Shukurova, the brains behind tech start-up Strella Biotechnology, have invented biosensors that work by monitoring levels of ethylene, the gas fruits release when they start to ripen. These sensors are simply placed in the room where the fruit is stored and collect data that indicates how much time is left before the fruit is past its best.

Ms. Sizov explained, “In essence what we have done is hack a fruit in order to make this technology. We think the way a fruit thinks!”.

Ms. Shukurova added, “We hope to save 760 million acres (308 million hectares) of land for other human use and still be able to generate the same amount of fresh produce. We can also save over 7% of the entire freshwater consumption in the world, and reduce energy consumption in the U.S. by over 2%.”

The pair have already conducted field trials with two of the largest fruit packers in the United States, saving one of the packers almost 1 million dollars in one room alone. They are now gearing up to develop their fledgling start-up into a full-functioning business, with the help of a special prize of financial support from their university.

Tune in to find out more about their story: