Like pockmarked pumpkins that go unsold on Halloween, a whopping 30 to 50% of all vegetables and fruits are discarded each year solely because they are too unattractive to sell. But not for long.
Israeli startup Anina, whose VP of R&D, Mor Wik, is a Technion alumna, is saving unwanted vegetables from the dumpster by turning them into artistic, edible packaging for ready-made meals.
Anina cuts the would-be wasted vegetables into thin slices that are dehydrated and pressed into thin paper-like laminates. The laminates are then molded into edible meal-size containers and filled with instant vegan meals, which currently include a Vietnamese Bowl, a Mediterranean Bowl, and Pasta Primavera, among others. Consumers pop the container in a bowl of water for rehydration, microwave for eight minutes, stir the melting container into the meal — and dinner’s ready.
The idea arose when co-founder Esti Brantz opened a dumpster behind a supermarket in Norway and found a trove of fruits and vegetables that were fresh and edible but were guilty of ugly imperfections such as brown leaves. And supermarket chains are not the only sinners. Brantz, an industrial and graphic designer, said that as many as half of all sweet potatoes are left in the ground to rot because they are misshapen.
Not only are Anina’s products healthy and artistically designed, but the technology is welcome in an era when consumers and environmentalists are increasingly demanding a reduction in plastic food packaging.
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