Thanks to Mother Nature, fruits and vegetables have a “peel” which protects the delicate insides from drying out and rotting.
Boston startup Foodberry is mimicking the work of Mother Nature by creating barriers for foods like hummus, coffee, ice cream, yogurt and peanut butter and jelly via coatings of fibers, phytonutrients, and minerals made through design principles and natural chemistries found in fruit skins and peels, the company said.
The food tech company began when CEO Marty Kolewe was taking courses at Harvard University. His professor, David Edwards, presented the idea of reverse engineering fruit skin to create edible packaging. Together, the pair co-founded Incredible Foods, which is now known as Foodberry.
The company has a portfolio of 20-plus patents around these membranes, and Kolewe recently told Axios that they plan to close a Series A funding round of $15 million by the end of 2023.
Already working with companies like NadaMoo! And Keji for their ice cream and yogurt products, the company is looking to partner with more brands to develop new food forms. The company showcased items at the New York Summer Fancy Food Show that included peanut butter wrapped in a raspberry coating and yogurt in a blueberry shell.
How it works
The peels of many fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But besides the health benefits, they are also protective – preventing browning and making the food within last longer.
Today, many consumers are frequently on-the-go, creating a higher demand for convenient foods that are easy, portable and highly craveable, the company said.
However, many of these snacks that do have long shelf life are made with preservatives, as manufacturers often add excess amounts of salt and fat to keep food fresh for a longer period of time.
The berry “skins” are the key part of Foodberry’s technology. This technology applies two concepts – microencapsulation, which is when active substances are coated by small capsules; and controlled release, which is when substances are released at a programmed rate – and uses them with food materials.
As a result, Foodberry creates edible, non-permeable, plant-based coatings from fruit and vegetable fibers that are meant to replace wasteful packaging such as plastic.
The hummus product is covered in a skin made from the fibers of roasted red peppers and the ice cream product has a range of coatings – including mango, orange creme, peanut butter, mint, and salted caramel.