Both WayCool Foods and IIT-H will be working together to develop antimicrobial food packaging material by using biopolymers. The MoU was signed and exchanged between Karthik Jayaraman, CEO, WayCool Foods and Sumohana Channappayya, dean (R&D), IIT-H in Hyderabad.
The packaging solution aims to enhance the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. For this, WayCool will be investing around Rs 2 million over three years in this association.
The aim is to develop economically viable and biodegradable packaging that will retain the freshness of fruits and vegetables longer, leading to a reduction in food wastage across the supply chain by up to 20%. This packing material will enhance the shelf life of mainstream fruits and vegetables such as okra, capsicum, Indian gooseberry, and guava as well as exotic produce such as strawberry and broccoli.
Vignesh Kumar Manogaran, EVP, WayCool Foods, said, "From inception, WayCool Foods has been actively working towards reducing food wastage on multiple fronts. The association with IIT Hyderabad to co-develop a sustainable alternate packaging solution further supplements our in-house R&D and innovation efforts. The collaboration will help us work closely with the bright minds of India's premier institutions and strengthen industry-academia linkage."
WayCool distributes its wide range of fresh produce and staples in brands such as Shuddha, Dhaanyaa, KitchenJi, L'exotique, Madhuram, and Freshey's, to nearly 20,000 retail outlets, as well as institutional clients. The innovative packaging, when developed, is intended to be starkly different from conventional packaging and will help consumers enjoy fresh produce longer.
As part of its CSR drive, WayCool has a farmer engagement programme – Outgrow – that engages with farmers through the entire cultivation cycle, from planning to inputs to harvesting. In the process, WayCool would help to substantially increase farmer profitability, reduce risk, and guarantee 270 days of steady income to farmers by leveraging a host of emerging technologies to measure soil health, ensure the quality of inputs, capture agricultural practices, and measure output quality.
Dr Mudrika Khandelwal, The Cellulose Group (head), IIT Hyderabad said, "Biopolymer is an environment friendly food packaging material. We are happy to collaborate with WayCool Foods to develop this unique solution to enhance product shelf-life while also reducing the overall carbon footprint related to food packaging. It is important to devise ways to create uncompromised innovations that meet our sustainability goals while providing customer-focused solutions."
WayCool Foods, founded in July 2015 by Karthik Jayaraman and Sanjay Dasari, is one of India's largest agri supply chain startups. Focusing on food development and distribution, the company leverages innovative technology to scale and operate a complex supply chain.
WayCool operates a full-stack, broadline product range across multiple channels and categories such as fresh produce, staples, and dairy, serving over 18,000 clients in the general trade, modern trade, and food services space.