A peel for longer life
Priya Wadhwa
SME Stories

A peel for longer life

Apeel Sciences's invention is having a strong environmental and economic impact.

1.3 Billion Tonnes — that’s how much food is wasted every year. 50% of this is fresh fruits, vegetables and root crops.

While the world is producing food that is enough for its people, the loss of food is a major barrier to food security.

In developing countries, 40% of food loss happens at post-harvest and processing levels due to financial, managerial and technical constraints. While in medium- and high-income countries, loss majorly occurs at the supply chain, retail and customer level, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

A huge part of this loss in owed to shorter shelf life of fresh produce.

One tech firm in the United States is addressing this problem. Founded in 2012, Apeel Sciences is developing sprays that act as a secondary peel to fresh fruits and vegetables, that prolong the life of the produce.

“Apeel is made of plant-derived materials — lipids and glycerolipids — that exist in the peels, seeds, and pulp of all the fruits and vegetables we already eat. Apeel creates an edible “peel” on the outside surface of all our categories of fresh produce that helps to reinforce the peel and slow down spoilage”

Currently, Apeel’s technology has been developed and deployed for avocados, and is running on a pilot programme for “asparagus and limes at Kroger, a U.S. based retailer.” They are also “trialing mandarins with Asda in the United Kingdom”.

Apeel explains to SME10X that their technology needs to be adapted to every category of products. “Key factors that determine the shelf-life of produce, such as water loss and ripening rates, are governed by their surface properties. From avocados to asparagus, the surface properties of produce vary. We consider all of these factors when we optimize a formulation for each category of produce.”

The benefit of this technology for businesses as well as large retailers is massive. Apeel changes the economics of the supply chain to bring more value to partners throughout the supply chain — benefiting the bottom line, the shopper as well as the planet.

“It’s important for our partners to know that we’re not just saving money by reducing food waste. Growers can make money by selling produce at a higher weight because Apeel reduces mass loss. Importers and exporters stand to gain from changes to the mode of shipping, because Apeel makes it possible to shift from air to sea freight for some produce categories. And retailers have higher margins from the combination of sales lift and food waste reduction.”

Speaking about their plans for growth and expansion, Apeel told us that it is currently “cleared for use in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia, China, Japan and the European Union.”

In February 2019, Apeel announced a partnership with Nature’s Pride, one of Europe’s largest importers of avocados and mangos, to expand the distribution of Apeel avocados into Europe for the first time. Apeel received its EU regulatory approval in June 2019.

“We’re actively working to bring Apeel fruits and vegetables to countries around the world and we expect additional regulatory clearances in the near future.”

Apeel’s innovation is a massive step forward in food sustainability. Not only is it recycling food waste by making the ‘peels’ but it is also lengthening food life that decreases food waste.