Optifreeze SA, a stock listed Swedish startup from Lund university, has developed a patented process that enhances taste, shape and texture of plant materials. In July 2017 Syngenta Flowers approached OptiFreeze SA and proposed to test their OptiFreeze discovery in Calliope pelargonium cuttings to see whether the quality and shelf life could be improved. The test results of OptiFlower technology have been very promising, not only in pelargonium, but also in other ornamental crops like Rio mandeville, Lavendula and Argyranthemum. Such improved shelf life holds the promise to solve logistic problems with which the industry has been struggling with for many years.
The current industry challenge comes from the fact that production farms are typically located near the equator in Africa and Latin America. The survival time of harvested cuttings is fairly short (4 days) and they have to be transported over far distances before planting in Europe and North America. With an improved survival time of nearly 14 days, many of today’s problems will be solved, with better quality of plants and less waste as a result.
After a period of extensive tests, we can conclude that the technology has been proven to work. We are now ready to take the OptiFlower cooperation to the next level. The first industrial line will shortly be installed at Kenya Cutting Limited, the Syngenta Flowers cuttings farm in Kenya where we produce well over 100 million cuttings per year. During 2019 additional tests will be done to develop the technology for commercial production. We expect to enter a pre-commercial phase during the second half the year, followed by first commercial use already in season 2019/2020.
The OptiFreeze and Syngenta Flowers have agreed to fully commercialize the OptiFlower technology and together offer the solution under license to the entire flowers industry.
Michael Kester, Head of Syngenta Flowers: “We are impressed by OptiFreeze’s invention and believe this breakthrough technology will improve the quality of unrooted cuttings and young plants for our customers. The improved shelf life of nearly two weeks enables a much better planning and handling of our products with a more predictable supply to the grower’s sites. The combination of improved quality, better storability & transportability of unrooted cuttings is really exciting as it allows the industry to deliver better products more reliably and reduce waste significantly.”
Göran Hedbys, Chairman of the Board of OptiFreeze: “We have now been working for almost 1,5 year together with Syngenta and the cooperation on all levels has been very good and very constructive. For us Syngenta is a perfect partner with the market insights that we are missing. We will also get some muscles behind us for the next step when making the technology an industrial standard. Step by step we are discovering the potential this technology has and by combining our forces we will take a huge leap forward.” says
About the technology
The OptiFreeze technology consists of two steps: Vacuum Infusion (VI) and Pulsed Electric Field (PEF). These two steps allow impregnation of liquids into plant cells, without damaging the plant tissues. By this technology, the life expectancy of flower cuttings is increased dramatically. It also has a positive effect on the rooting speed and growth after transportation, resulting in stronger plants. The improved shelf life can bring efficiency at the farm, improved logistics, gives a better quality at the grower and extra value to the plant.
19 February 2019, Sweden / The Netherlands
Göran Hedbys Michael Kester
Chairman of the Board Optifreeze Head of Syngenta Flowers