Apeel Sciences on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from food waste

9 Jun 2020

At the end of May, Apeel Sciences raised $250 million dollars in new financing, bringing the startup’s total funding to more than $1 billion. This infusion of funds will be put toward the company’s mission of food waste prevention, an area in which it has already made significant progress. Apeel estimated that it will save 20 million pieces of fruit from being wasted in retail and will also be able to extend the total shelf life of produce in the home, where food waste is three times higher.

“Food waste is an invisible tax imposed on everyone that participates in the food system. Eliminating global food waste can free up $2.6 trillion annually, allowing us to make the food ecosystem better for growers, distributors, retailers, consumers and our planet,” said James Rogers, founder and chief executive officer of Apeel in a statement.

Apeel Sciences on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from food waste
Photo Courtesy of Apeel Sciences

The company also stated that this funding will be focused on aiding farmers and communities which are at greater risk for food insecurity, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America. At the same time, the company’s supermarket clients in the United States and Europe continue to play a large role in the increasing popularity of this solution. Large grocers in the United States, Germany and Denmark are already widely using the technology. Asda in the UK will follow suit later this year, reported The Guardian.

This latest funding round for Apeel was led by GIC with additional participation from Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group, as well as celebrity investors Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry.

Apeel has created a barrier for fruit skin which can be applied in a spray-on application to triple the shelf life of many products without the need for refrigeration. Most notably, this additional preservation layer is invisible. It is colorless, tasteless and does not leave a detectable greasy residue behind.

The company's efforts began with a focus on avocados and has since expanded to citrus fruits and apples with vegetables like asparagus and cucumber next in line. Apeel's novel approach to combatting food waste is also a financially intriguing one for retailers. The company estimated that U.S. supermarkets using its technology have seen a 50% reduction in unsold produce as well as a 5% to 10% increase in sales.

Food waste is a growing concern for consumers worldwide. With the world population expected to top 10 billion by 2015, the need to increase food is a pressing one. But population growth also throws into stark relief the tendency for generating food waste in many countries. Despite a need for more food, The Guardian reported that nearly 1.3 billion tons or a third of all the food produced around the globe is wasted annually. This quantity of waste translates to one in nine people going hungry around the globe every day, according to data collected between 2016 and 2018 from the Food Aid Foundation.

Not only is wasted food a growing concern for consumers – a Mattson survey from 2019 found 74% of consumers saw food waste as an extremely big issue – but its reduction is also potentially a source of increased revenue for retailers. Nielsen found that two-thirds of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, and lessening food waste is certainly a sustainable practice.

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