18 December 2020
USDA funding for potato quality technology
Hazel Technologies Inc has received new USDA-funding for a packaging technology which protects the quality of potatoes.
The technology, dubbed Hazel Root™, is a packaging insert placed in a bulk box or bin of potatoes or onions during storage following harvest. This prevents the sprouting process from starting prematurely.
According to the USDA (The United States Department of Agriculture), sprouting exceeding 10% of the total surface area of the potato qualifies a potato as “damaged” and not only reduces the commercial value of a potato but also contributes to food waste, as the potato is less likely to be consumed. Furthermore, consumers frequently confuse sprouting with decay and throw away produce that has grown sprouts.
The Hazel Root™ technology will work by slowly releasing an active ingredient which slows the growth of sprouts using natural biological processes. Hazel Root™ will be usable on both conventional and organic potatoes. The USDA grant funding was made possible through the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program. This fund helps support new technologies that may substantially benefit the future of US agriculture and requires a USDA technical review as well as recommendations from stakeholders in the produce industry.