The Israel-based agritech startup Sufresca creates edible, biodegradable coatings that can extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables by up to several weeks under ambient, cold, and changing conditions.
Founded in 2020, Sufresca’s green solution was the result of a 15-year R&D effort led by the company’s Chief Science Officer in his lab at the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Sufresca is now conducting trials of its coatings on tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, mangoes, and avocados produced in the Israeli, European, North American, and Central American markets.
The company’s sustainable and cost-effective solution has earned the Sufresca team recognition and several innovation awards, including the “Most Innovative Processing Technology” award at the Fi Europe Startup Innovation Challenge 2020. And Sufresca’s rising profile has earned it support from VCs; the company recently closed a $3.5 million seed funding round led by the American-Israeli firm OurCrowd.
This year, the GRAFT Challenge selection team discovered Sufresca as it searched for solutions to challenges facing Vietnam’s agricultural producers, including high rate of product product losses due to perishability and improper conditions – both in-route and at marketplaces – and limited domestic market access for tropical fruit due to value chain deficiencies.
The Challenge presented a welcome opportunity for Sufresca as the company had been planning to scale into new markets in Asia, including tropical countries – like Vietnam – with high produce export demand.
After Sufresca joined the GRAFT Challenge Vietnam 2021 final cohort in August, the company began working with the GRAFT team to clarify market entry points. The mango industry, which deals with challenges of cost-efficient quality management across its supply chain, was identified as a high-potential test point for Sufresca in Vietnam. Initial efforts were focused on the mango industry in Vietnam’s Dong Thap Province – the largest mango producer in the Mekong Delta – where Sufresca and GRAFT are now engaged in discussions with multiple mango and possibly avocado exporters.
After this, GRAFT and Sufresca commissioned research from the Vietnamese firm TMT Consulting to gain insights into the quality assessments of avocado and vegetable production in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
Sufresca also hopes to bring its application into the domestic tomato and pepper production industries.
“We are now building the foundation for Sufresca to grow in Vietnam after the end of the GRAFT Challenge,” says GRAFT Program Lead Justin Ahmed. “To this end, we’ve been connecting the company to local advisory and operational support, building fit-for-market communications channels and marketing materials, and helping them understand the challenges Vietnam’s agrifood businesses are facing in managing quality for fresh produce across supply chains.”
GRAFT and Sufresca are also working to engage a relevant shortlist of governmental and private partners to facilitate and coordinate commercial trials, which will help Sufresca identify broader opportunities to deploy their tech in the Vietnam market.
“Sufresca’s ultimate vision for its involvement in the GRAFT Challenge is to reduce food waste for Vietnam’s produce suppliers and retailers and open up new export opportunities,” said Efrat Ferri, Sufresca CEO.
If you or any entities in your networks are interested in partnering with Sufresca on its journey to scale up in Vietnam, contact the GRAFT team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRAFT is sponsored by Australia’s Aus4Innovation program to contribute to promoting the testing of new models in public-private partnerships, and strengthen Vietnam’s capacity in digital, scenario building, commercialization, and innovation policy. GRAFT Challenge Vietnam 2021 is an initiative designed by Australian innovation agency Beanstalk in partnership with the Vietnam Digital Agriculture Association (VIDA), the Vietnam National Supporting Center for Youth’s Start-up (SYS), and Mekong Business Initiative for Innovation Challenges (MBIIC).
About Aus4Innovation: Aus4Innovation is the AUD 13.5 million, four-year (2018-2022) flagship program to help strengthen the Vietnamese innovation system and prepare for Vietnam’s economic and digital future. It is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), managed by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in strategic collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam (MoST)./.
For program enquiries, contact GRAFT at email@example.com
Contacts for media enquiries:
- Regional Contact: Mr. Jason Lusk – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vietnam Contact: Ms. Bao Linh – Email: email@example.com (+84-0338021140) (for Vietnamese language PR only)