Endless In-Store Sampling RecipesAngel Sweet

Fountain of Fresh: A Q&A with Gordon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Verdant Technologies

Fountain of Fresh: A Q&A with Gordon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Verdant™ Technologies

W

ho is Verdant Technologies?

 

When we put this story on the editorial calendar for our December 2022 issue, I was already familiar with Verdant Technologies and its innovative HarvestHold® post-harvest solution. Still, I felt there was so much more to learn. I asked myself: What drives this company to bring shelf-life-extending products to market?

Who is Verdant Technologies, really?

The answer, I found, is that the solutions provider pulls from the same well of inspiration as many fresh produce growers do: to bring nutritious, fresh food to the masses. Post-harvest technology is the vehicle through which Verdant accomplishes this goal.

But, I’ll let the company’s Chief Executive Officer tell the tale himself. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Gordon Robertson.

 


Chandler James: Gordon, I am so intrigued by your product, and even more so by your vision. For those of us looking to learn more about Verdant Technologies, can you explain the company’s mission statement?

Gordon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Verdant Technologies: At our core, we’re an innovation company focused on bringing nourishment to more people in more places. Our team is passionate about introducing solutions that unlock new value for growers and retailers through delivering longer-lasting, better-tasting, and more nutritious products.

Our 20 years of experience in the fresh sector has led to 241 patents filed around the world. We have globally recognized experts in cyclodextrin and 1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropene) on our team, and we are uniquely positioned to create significant value while providing nourishment to the global community.


CJ: From what I have learned about HarvestHold, I know it is a post-harvest solution for suppliers that helps extend shelf-life and deliver the freshest fruits and vegetables. I’m curious to hear more about the mechanism behind the product and what sets it apart from other shelf-life extending products.

GR: Our team developed a unique, patented technology, which provides a breakthrough delivery method of industry-standard 1-MCP, a plant growth regulator that slows the aging process of produce and flowers. As fruits, vegetables, and flowers are harvested, growers and packers simply insert a recyclable sheet containing our solution into their packaging from which 1-MCP is released using a plant’s natural chemistry. The technology can be applied wherever and whenever it’s needed most, significantly reducing waste, offering unmatched storability and portability, and extending the usable life of produce and florals by up to 50 percent.

Shelf-life extension technologies, including solutions with 1-MCP, aren’t new to the produce industry.

Part of our challenge when we launched was to help inform growers that HarvestHold is different than other technologies in the market. Post-harvest solutions, including many using 1-MCP, required growers to invest in new infrastructure or ways of working that haven’t yielded consistent results. HarvestHold not only answers many of the questions and concerns the industry has had with other shelf-life solutions, but it also continues to exceed expectations and creates new opportunities for our customers.

"At our core, we’re an innovation company focused on bringing nourishment to more people in more places.”

Gordon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Verdant™ Technologies


CJ: I think that is a very important distinction to make with HarvestHold—that it opens the doors for boundless possibilities for operators on both the supply- and buy-sides. In collaborating with other companies to bring this solution to life, how can HarvestHold help reimagine the supply chain?

GR: As we launched HarvestHold over the past year, our conversations with growers have evolved from discussing the efficacy of HarvestHold to thinking of new ways we can work together to unlock new value and products for growers, retailers, and consumers. Through our technology and the extra days of freshness it provides, growers can expand their geographical markets, helping their products reach more customers in more places.

For decades, many new varieties of fruits and vegetables have been bred for longer shelf-life, often at the expense of flavor. Now, with HarvestHold, growers can approach breeding and new product introductions in a new way—leading with innovation and bringing better-tasting products to consumers.

We’re also working with broccoli growers and packers to remove ice from their packaging, allowing them to pack more broccoli into their boxes—instead of ice—and ultimately ship more broccoli per pallet and truckload. By adopting HarvestHold into a broccoli operation, customers receive cost savings from no longer using ice, but also reap substantial sustainability benefits by the removal of water from every box they ship.

These are just a few ways that our innovation is transforming the supply chain and challenging the industry to think of the new possibilities and markets that are now available to them.


CJ: That seems like a win from the sustainability perspective, too! I know broccoli is just one example of the produce categories HarvestHold has had a positive impact on. How has the product performed in the market and where does it excel?

GR: The exciting part of working with a new application method for a well-established technology is that we have years of data on 1-MCP. From a research and development perspective, we’ve approached our testing with an open curiosity to explore how HarvestHold works across a wide range of crops. Due to the longer release that HarvestHold provides compared to other solutions, we’ve found that we’re able to extend the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables that were once believed to not respond to the treatment of 1-MCP.

In addition to our own tests and the numerous trials we’ve conducted with customers, we place a significant amount of value on the scientific research and testing of third-party organizations and universities. Over the past couple of years, we’ve worked with CIAD (Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo) in Mexico to test HarvestHold on broccoli, tomatoes, melons, avocados, and papayas, all showing positive benefits from HarvestHold applications compared to untreated.

This year we also worked with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science to study the effects of HarvestHold on grape tomatoes. The results further validated our internal trials and the previous testing by CIAD. Compared to untreated grape tomatoes, our solution reduced weight loss by 50 percent, had 25 percent less water, and maintained firmer tomatoes throughout storage when brought to room temperature.

We’re currently working on additional trials in a variety of crops, and we’re looking forward to sharing the results in the coming months.


CJ: Speaking of looking forward, do you have any teasers for us about what is to come for Verdant Technologies?

GR: I’m tremendously excited about our future and the unique benefits our solution will provide our customers, the industry, and society. Our innovation allows growers and retailers to achieve more freshness with less effort, which will increase profitability without increasing workload—something truly game-changing for their operations and customers. When growers, retailers, and consumers experience the post-harvest power of HarvestHold, it’s a moment to behold.


There is something about the shared endeavor to feed the world that moves me. Even when we think we can’t put a piece of fruit directly into someone’s hand, we can play a role in its journey from point A to point B. And, as it’s been said, the journey is the destination.

So, who is Verdant Technologies?

More than you might think. 

Fountain of Fresh: A Q&A with Gordon Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Verdant™ Technologies