(May 10) Robert Petcavich has been working on trying to eliminate “sugar spots,” or brown spots, on bananas for several years without much success.

Until lately.

Petcavich, chief technology officer for Lumera Corp., Bothell, Wash., said that in recent months, he has developed privately a process that could revolutionize the sale and distribution of bananas and other fruit.

The research has revealed that through a series of coatings and controlled-atmosphere treatment, the shelf life of bananas can be extended. The technique uses existing manufacturing and packaging equipment.

Petcavich said the technique could be used on just about any fruit, but he picked bananas first because they were such a large and important crop throughout the world. He also said it has the potential to work on vegetables with further testing.

The process stands to extend the life of the fruit 10 days.

“The process can take place immediately after harvest, or just prior to retail sale or can even take place at the retailer level,” Petcavich said.

Timing is an important consideration, Petcavich said, because fruit needs to be treated at their peak of maximum flavor and color.

Although it is possible to extend the life of the fruit even more, Petcavich said two weeks or less would be plenty.

“I actually have bananas two weeks old that look fresh and taste great, but I think 7-10 days is more than enough extension time.”

Petcavich is forming a company to market the technology and has a patent pending to protect it.