Ovtene: This is their story

1.    Summarize your business in one sentence. 

Ovtene is a packaging technology company that was inspired by the protection provided by an eggshell, which extends the shelf life of food products while maintaining their sensory characteristics and freshness.

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2. How long have you been in business? 

Ovtene products were launched in Italy in 2008, and extended their reach into most of Europe by 2015. These products became available in North America in 2016. 

3. Why did you decide to start the company?

In 2005, Alberto Tomasini was troubled by how swiftly certain foods became less palatable, dried out, deteriorated, and eventually became inedible. Inspired by the functions of the egg he began researching at the University of Udine Food Sciences in Italy, and eventually developed the material known as Ovtene. This material has the capacity to keep nearly any perishable food item fresh for much longer by retarding bacterial and mold growth.

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After being highly successful in Italy, the product moved into other European countries for grocery and food production packaging. In 2012, we began thinking of North America, the next largest producer of fine foods and its consumption. In 2016, after much positive exploratory research of the North American market, the FDA approved the product, at which point we launched six of our products into the grocery and food procure markets in the USA.

4. What has been your biggest achievement so far? 

Providing a sensible alternative to paper and plastic packaging, that extend the shelf life naturally with a much lower environmental footprint. Ovtene utilizes 60% less plastic than traditional packaging and neither water nor trees are consumed in its construction.

For a bit more information, take a look at their feature on Deli Market TVsaynotofoodwaste-ovtene-cheese-fresh-nofoodwaste-4

5. How do you measure success?

Initially we look for successful independent testing evaluations followed by positive customer feedback and retention. When our grocery accounts customers begin asking for Ovtene by name and when food producers tell us that their products get to market fresher than before, we know we are onto something.

The next level of success is measured by actual sales and penetration into the many other uses of Ovtene. As well as, when the end user realizes the nutritional value of color, smell and taste of their food that is preserved with our product, unlike any other packaging.

6. What have you learned in the process? 

We learned from food producers and customers that Ovtene can keep products fresh that we hadn’t even thought to test before, such as citrus, floral and herbs. We also learned that Ovtene could be used to overcome the Van der Waals forces of clumping in powders when packaged. Cheese producers we discovered use Ovtene in the aging process as well as the final packaging for market. We also learned that many opportunities exist from Ovtene as it can be placed into stiff containers. In addition, we learned that OTR or the oxygen transmission rate was perfect for packaging fish as recommended by the FDA.

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The pouches are more popular in the US than in Europe. And people like to see the product, so windows need to be an option in many packaging applications. Most of all, people like to do what is easiest and change is difficult, and is viewed as a personal risk for users to initiate. But, they implement the product if they see that significant savings can be attained.

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7. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a sustainable food company?

With great products comes the adrenaline of trying to do too much all at once. Stay focused and tackle the markets that you know work. The rest will fall into place. FDA and USDA approvals were important recognitions, but were an extensive process. 

8. What’s next? Anything else you want to add?

Thermoforming and injection molding, and the introduction of the next generation of Ovtene, which we call OvteneActive. EU patents are approved for this even more protective form of Ovtene.

We believe that Ovtene packaging will increase the shelf life throughout the production and distribution chain. Ovtene can help bring fresh food to under served communities and decrease food waste due to spoilage. Ovtene can decrease the risk of bacterial contamination in food and beyond.

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9. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?

Appetizer: Fresh Ccup Carpaccio, cooked in lemon, pepper and olive oil.
Dinner: Barramundi, Australian Sea Bass, grilled plain served with a Sicilian Caponata.
Dessert: Almond Biscotti and Vin Santo (aged 10 or more years).

Salvatore Giglia, representative of Ovtene in North America

Bite sized wisdom: utilizing time and tools for success

Spring is upon us and the magic of life is everywhere. Everything and everyone is craving a fresh new start.

Birds are chirping for company. Green buds are blooming into vibrant flowers.

With the sun above, and the rains moistening our soil, we roll our sleeves and head out to the garden.

We begin to rake the soil. Running blades through the ground and awakening what was once dormant. Preparing the garden beds for a new season of yielding fruits.

The process takes time, but with the right vision and motivation, patience becomes a worthwhile feat. Taking time helps us observe and review all facts. It helps us adjust and reevaluate our methods.
saynotofoodwaste.rake.soil.start.fresh.spring.april.sustainable.green.wisdom.2Step by step, little by little, our seeds grow. And though initially it is hard to look at a small seed and see it’s final state as a lemon or a strawberry,knowing that if both parties put in their effort, then in time fruits of labor will rest on the palm of your hand.

In our everyday life, where the whole world is rushing after dreams, taking a minute for reflection feels unnatural. It may even feel like time is being wasted. The reality is – we will always fail with unfamiliar challenges and situations if we don’t study them and search within us for the tools to overcome them.

Any goal that you want to accomplish, whether in the garden, in the gym or in your personal life will require your patience. It will require your commitment, time for observation, and tools to help realize your goals. With all three, nothing is out of reach.

Wishing you all a bit more patience as you wait for your gardens to bloom.

Happy spring!
Hokuma

Bite sized wisdom: hacks for taste & freshness

Dear Friends,

Have you ever found that sometimes food doesn’t taste as fresh even though you just bought it?

The trick to fixing this is by learning the likes of each fruit and veggie. Instead of throwing everything into the fridge after a grocery run take time to separate items that shouldn’t be put together (such as potatoes and onions), and don’t refrigerate items that enjoy being in room temperature.

Below you’ll find three tips that will give you an immediate taste difference with recently bought tomatoes, cheese and bananas. (There are many more items, but to those we’ll get to in our later posts.)

1. Let the cheese sit after being refrigerated 

cheese.freshness.tips.food.cooking.sustainable.last.saynotofoodwaste.2Since cheese is made mostly of fat you want to make sure its molecules have time to warm up after being pulled out of the fridge. In the cold the fat molecules contract, hiding with it delicious texture and taste. It’s recommended to take out cheese 1.5 hours before eating it (even 45 or 30 minutes is better than none). Softer cheese such as brie should sit out for even longer. Fresh cheese can be an exception and can be eaten faster, but be sure to keep all the cheese in their packaging before opening them to eat.

2. Don’t chill your tomatoes 

tomato.freshness.tips.food.cooking.sustainable.last.saynotofoodwaste.3Tomatoes like to be in room temperature, and since ‘room temperature‘ varies greatly the approximate degree ranges between 60-70F. These temperatures may vary in the summer time, but the general idea is that the linoleic acid in tomatoes turns into a Z-3 hexenel compound and gives the tomato fruit its taste. Cold weather impedes this process leading to a loss of flavor.  Our tip: be realistic about your situation. If you plan to eat your tomatoes in a day or two after purchasing it’s best to keep them in at room temperature. However, if you won’t get to them for couple of days, put them in the fridge so that they don’t ripen too quickly and begin to rot.

3. Wrap plastic over your banana

bananas.freshness.tips.food.cooking.sustainable.last.saynotofoodwaste.5Bananas are delicious! They are filled with potassium, are a perfect ingredient on top of a peanut butter sandwich, a morning smoothie and can even be eaten for dessert when mixed in with greek yogurt. When you buy them though, you usually buy a bunch of bananas, which can go bad quickly in warm temperature. A good way to prevent them from browning is by wrapping some plastic around the ‘crown’ of these yellow goods. This technique can give you an extra 3-4 days of freshness, not bad for all the bucks you spend at the grocery store.

All these tips are new to me and I’m excited to share them with you. Are there other tips you guys are aware of that we should post on the website? If so, drop a line and share your knowledge!

Happy Friday guys!

-Hokuma

Keeping your greens fresh

Hey Friends!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Today is one of my favorite days, and no, it’s not because of the booze, it’s because of the color GREEN! If you haven’t guessed it yet, this is one of my favorite colors (the other being blue).

green.st.patrick'sday.saynotofoodwaste.sustainable.happy.green.cheers.forevergreen.last.recipe.celebrate.3Green is a symbol of the environment, of renewal and life. As we celebrate today and wait for spring, which arrives in a few days, it’s good to have more green in your life. You can do this by wearing green clothes, buying green plants or growing your own plants (like the green semeni that’s grown in all the households of Azerbaijan for the Novruz celebration – the coming of spring).

You can also add green to your plate with avocado that magically turns into guacamole. Speaking of, here’s a cool tip on keeping your avocados fresh. The video below shows you different ‘techniques’ to keep your unused avocado slices fresh. In it you’ll see different techniques tested, everything from plastic wrap and ziploc bags, to olive oil and onions, but the are only two winners in the end.

If curious, check out the video below….and if you don’t have time then scroll for the two winning instructions.

The first winner was the sliced avocado placed inside a plastic container the bottom of which was covered in sliced onion. The chemical properties of the onion kept the avocado fresh, without affecting the taste (as it only touched the bottom (skinned part) of the avo). The second winner was lemon juice. If you poured lemon juice on top of an avocado half and sealed it in a container it would stay equally as fresh as the onion one.

So, with these tips I hope you venture out to your grocery store and stock up on avocados. Use some to make guacamole for today’s snack and the other unused half place in a container lined with onions, or just squeeze some lemon juice on top. It will stay fresh and be ready for your next party or avocado craving.

Happy eating & drinking!
Hokuma