California Startup Apeel Sciences Reduces Food Waste By Protecting Produce

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The southern-California startup Apeel Sciences is using a plant-based material to prevent food waste. The company makes a protective powder that farmers can add water to in order to spray on produce. The mixture creates a layer of protection on top of the natural peel of a fruit or vegetable to reduce perishability.

“Factors that cause spoilage are water loss and oxidation. This reminded me instantly of my undergraduate days at Carnegie Mellon as a metallurgist studying steel. Steel is perishable as well. It’s perishable because it rusts — it reacts with oxygen in the environment — and that limits its use,” said  founder and CEO James Rogers.

Initially, the company was working in Kenya and Uganda to help farmers protect their produce on its journey from farms to markets. Now, it is also working in the US with retailers like Costco and Harps Food Stores.

 Apeel says with its avocados at Harps Food Stores, there has seen a 65% margin increase and a 10% sales boost in the avocado category.

“Our [mission] at its core is looking at natural ecosystems to determine and identify what materials it’s using to solve problems and how we might be able to extract and isolate those materials to solve other problems for humanity,” said Rogers. 

In July, Appel closed a $70 million funding round.

A tremendous amount of food is thrown away each year, about 1.3 billion tons, and food waste contributes an estimated 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG each year.

Image Credit: B. Navez , Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

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