Spotlight: Kavita Shukla and her world-changing FreshPaper invention!

Kavita Shukla (L), Tony Russo (middle) and  Swaroop Samant (right) when FreshPaper was just beginning.

Kavita Shukla (L), Tony Russo (middle) and  Swaroop Samant (right) when FreshPaper was just beginning.

This month’s Russo’s News Spotlight is on Kavita Shukla who has dramatically changed the fresh food industry for the better with her FreshPaper products!

If you have never heard of FreshPaper, it is a life-extender for fresh produce. The compostable, biodegradable paper is made with a special blend of botanicals that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth — which keeps fruits and vegetables fresh for 2-4 x’s longer! Simply place a sheet of FreshPaper in your refrigerator, fruit bowl or directly into your bag of produce.

Russo’s is one of the first stores in the world to carry FreshPaper and we are so inspired by the work Kavita has done since first introducing her product to Tony Russo many years ago. Kavita had read about Russo’s in a local magazine where Boston chefs had said that they shopped at our store. That magazine story inspired her to take a trip to Watertown.

“I will never forget the first time I walked into Russo’s,” Kavita said. “It was the most beautiful store I had ever seen with mountains of beautiful produce.”

She met Tony Russo at the store and told him about her new product and idea. He was intrigued.

Kavita explained their meeting. “He said to me, ““I’ll take some, can you bring 15 cases by tomorrow?’ And that was so much more than I had ever thought of selling. At that point in time, we were selling one case a month!“

“Your dad took such a leap of faith,” she said. Then she and her co-founder Swaroop Samant stayed up all night fulfilling the order for Russo’s.

“It was such a proud moment for us,” said Kavita. “It was the first time I started to believe that it was possible to do something with my idea, to bring it to fruition. For such a long time, it was such a secret thing that I was working on.”

She aded, “When Tony said ‘This is really interesting,’ for me, it changed my life, it changed the trajectory, it just showed the power of someone who believes in your idea and gave us a chance,” said Shukla.

Shukla and her partner came to Russo’s and did demonstrations and enjoyed watching people pick up her product (“with the stickers that I printed out at home”) at Russo’s.

“Tony give us advice. We knew NOTHING about produce, supply chain, getting your product into retailers. (Tony Russo) would give us advice on our packages, ‘maybe you should put this on the package.’ He was so wonderful and would tell people to come talk to us. Would tell everyone about it.”

One of the earlier versions of FreshPaper at Russo’s.

One of the earlier versions of FreshPaper at Russo’s.

Originally, Kavita created the product so that farmers could extend the life of their produce. So she and Swaroop went to a local farmers market in the Boston area to sell their handmade products alongside farmers - but the farmers market customers also saw their FreshPaper and they wanted it, too.

Kavita wants to reduce worldwide food waste and FreshPaper is helping to fulfill that mission. FreshPaper is now in more than 100 countries around the globe. Along with FreshPaper for produce, Kavita has also introduced a product for Cheese and a product for fresh-baked Bread. Of course, we carry all of them at Russo’s.

To learn more about Kavita and FreshPaper, here is a recent article from USA Today

or read and watch interviews and Ted Talks with Kavita on her website here

FreshPaper’s current day logo and packaging,

FreshPaper’s current day logo and packaging,