Shel-Life: Edible coating 100% natural and organic for extend the shelf life of fruits

Santiago, ChileSantiago, Chile
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Reduce spoilage of fruits, reducing postharvest losses, and take advantage of the same active compounds from plants and parts not used, is the key to the development of a sustainable agricultural industry. Our solution (Shel-Life) is a natural and organic edible coating for extend the shelf life.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we can reduce completely the losses of export fruits (by dehydration and microbial deterioration) using an organic and natural solution?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Export fruits are susceptible to postharvest deterioration in all the production stages. Fruits have the problem of dehydration processes, chemical and biological contamination. All this contamination creates big losses (20% of fruit production), which means losses of 500,000 tons of fruit in the case of Chile. In addition to resistance of fruits, the foodstuffs market looks for improvements in visual and tactile appeal of the fruits surface

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The proposed solution is Shel-Life, a natural and organic edible coating for extend the shelf life of fruits. We create different types of edible coatings formed by polymeric compounds extracted from fruits to be applied on fruits and flowers to extend its shelf life. The coating forming compounds are extracted from the fruit itself or its byproducts generating an edible coating, 100% natural and organic. The coating formulation depends on the product to be coated. The coating improves the endurance to biochemical and physical deterioration and also improves the organoleptic properties of fruits or flowers. We will provide a complete service; providing the forming coating solution, the application system and after-sales service.


Start Up Chile Aji Challenge Brain UC Aplica tu Idea
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In the world, between 20 to 25% of the total production of fruits is lost by their natural processes of dehydration and microbial contamination?. Just in Chile, this problem implies throwing away around 500,000 ton of fruits with economic losses around 1 billion US per year. To end this problem, we developed Shel-Life, a natural and organic edible coating by using by-products of the same fruits. Through an easy application, Shel-Life forms a second natural skin on fruits, which: i) reduces the microbial load, ii) retards the dehydration process, and iii) improves the taste and visual appearance. As a result, the fruits, i) reach to more customers in the world, ii) increase the time for sale, and iii) enter to the demanding organic markets.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

- According our preliminary results, a fruit using Shel-Life can extend their Shelf life for double time. For example, an apple without Shel-Life takes about 15 days in deteriorated, but apples with Shel-Life lasts 30 days. Therefore, products with Shel-Life can be shipped by more economic way (by ship but not by fly) and also to higher temperature, which implies reduce the cost. - Maintain the organic quality of fruit, allow to enter markets where they can not currently sell fruit with conventional waxes. - Given that the fruit with Shef-Life lasts longer, it may be sold for a longer period. - Since compounds Shel-Life are extracted from the same fruits, it allow maintained the appearance, taste and their natural condition. Also, we are revaluing agroindustrial waste.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In the 3 first years, we will validate Shel-Life in Chile in the more important industries (Chile is the more important export country in the south hemisphere). Meanwhile, we must make the respective international certifications. This will allow us to enter without problems worldwide. Actually, we are in patenting process in Chile for take safeguard our technology. In the moment to get more income, we will to initiate the patenting process in USA. When that process is done, we will to start selling Shel-Life in California, USA.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

To ensure the financial sustainability, we are making alliances with fruit companies that will use and sell our product for us. Shel-Life is also going to be sell directly to agroindustries and clients all over Chile (and then the World). Also we have the support of the Chilean Government to bring our solution worldwide. Something favorable is that this project is highly scalable, because our profits will be getting high as we get more clients.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The products for the preservation of fruit are chemicals sprayed (synthetic compound growth regulator delaying senescence) and waxes to water. The waxes form a bright film (confers selective permeability to fruit), improving the appearance and controls weight loss. The waxes provide an opaque shade and bitter taste characteristics (not very prized). The waxes are hydrophobic and they are not easy to wash. Shel-Life presents all the benefits provided by the above products and provides an effect over time to improve its organoleptic aspect using natural extracts that enhanced aroma to fruits.

Founding Story

Shelf-Life emerged as a product of scientific research between two doctoral students. One of them, had an everyday conversation with a friend who worked in a fruit industry, who exposed the great existing problems in the industry (dehydration and contamination of fruit) which generate great economic losses. That was the starting point of this innovative project. Finally, they found a solution to this problem by developing Shel-Life, an edible coating 100% natural and organic that to extend the shelf life of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Shel-Life generate a second skin that retard the dehydration process, reduces the microbial load and improves the sensory attributes of the product.


Shel-Life project is developed by an extremely complete and strong team. In particular, PhD(c) Francisco Palma (founder and project leader) we have an deep knowledge in Edible films topic and sales of biotechnology products and services. PhD Rodrigo Vergara is a great biochemistry engineer been involved in already investigations and projects in biotechnology in the university, public projects and in different enterprises understanding the model of biotechnology enterprises works. A charge of the commercial area is Vartan Ishanoglu, a biological engineering who have a long experience in sustainability companies. He is directing the business model and the commercial explorations. Also, are participating Carolina, Francisco and Gian Paolo in charge of communications, design and marketing. With this team we are capable of tackling the problem, sales and development our startup.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:


Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:


Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Zero Hunger, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Experience in a social enterprise on sustainability and energy efficiency. In the project we learn to value teamwork, take the time to plan activities and be constant in the work. We have succeeded in developing projects that seek efficiency in homes, communities and private companies. We understand that selling is important to provide a service or product of excellence. Finally, be consistent and never give up are the factors that involves the triumph of a company or enterprise.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

MENTOR: In our team we have the help of a financial mentor. His name is Cristobal Sanchez and is currently the director of administration and finance in Gesex.
PARTNERS: We are testing our product in 2 export fruits companies in Chile (Greenvic and Gesex), which are interest in Shel-Life. It is noteworthy that these companies are very important in Chile.
Also, we are participating in a Government program for entrepreneurs called StartUp Chile. It is in this program where we are receiving advisor every week.