Last year, Edwards, 51, a bioengineer at Harvard University, launched WikiCell, making edible container for everything from coffee yogurt and even alcoholic beverages. “Essentially may surround any food or drink with a skin like a grape skin is completely edible, and then consumed” he says. Image of a martini olive wrapped in that you can put in your pocket and flush when you are ready for a toast.
Inspired by the way in which a biological cell carries water, Edwards began to design a similar vessel for foods and drinks. Products WikiCell to keep food fresh almost as long as conventional packaging using natural skins like apples and grapes, he says, with insoluble particles that prevent bacteria and other substances. Instead of skin cells, protective membrane causes a mixture of particles of food such as chocolate and orange, binding to carbohydrates. “If you look at the architecture, design and engineering over the past millennia, we have been super-inspired by nature, but it is always the way,” says Edwards. In the past 15 years, he says, has been “this great movement that not only mimics the form but the function.”
The market value of the U.S. for disposable packaging, crockery and cutlery in fast food restaurants, hospitals and other facilities is $ 20 billion, and recyclable or compostable products are in demand, says Joe Pawlak, vice president of industry researcher Technomic food. Industry consultant JoAnn Hines says: “There is great interest in edible food packaging. Now The problem for consumers is by taste, texture and appearance.”
Partners Polaris Venture capital firms Flagship Ventures and is supporting WikiCell market movement. Polaris has funded three companies Edwards, including AeroShot, making inhalable caffeine and chocolate, and Advanced Inhalation Research, which was sold to the pharmaceutical Alkermes (ALKS) in 1999 for $ 114 million. Polaris co-founder Terry McGuire says WikiCell association has had talks with major food and beverage companies, but does not name them.
Edwards also looking for other applications in the developing world, including a containment system SKINlike liquid made with coconut flakes that can keep fresh water for days, says. Later this year, will launch its first products WikiCell commercial: Grapes GoYum Yogurt ice cream and grapes, with strong flavors skins designed for hanging in supermarket freezers in biodegradable cellophane and duration of six months.
Edwards says the company will distribute sweets in supermarkets, but declined to name them. WikiCell plans to expand in cafes and cinemas. Customers are more used to portable packaged ice cream, for example, coffee wrapped in a shell of chocolate or caramel. That makes a product GoYum good start, says Edwards, to move consumers “of the plastic age”.
Win consumers edible food packaging
Inhalation research company sold for $ 114 million in 1999
Ice cream and frozen yogurt flavored skins
Tirrell is a reporter for Bloomberg News.