Bloomberg Businessweek November 2, 2020 pp37-38 |Innovation|Solutions|”How to Fight Food Waste” “Apeel is marketing a plant-based coating that can cut down on spoilage”. “THE BOTTOM LINE Apeel Sciences is winning investment for an edible material it’s developed that doubles the shelf life of produce and cuts harvest-to-market losses for small farmers”
Not known to most consumers in America but many fruits are in some way preserved to improve their appeal to retailers and consumers by retarding spoilage from over-ripening. Current solutions to reduce produce spoilage involves refrigeration typically but others are more scientifically-based methods like avoiding excess ethylene oxide, “[ethylene oxide] triggers ripening in some produce” or using antimicrobial packaging. These treatments help transit produce long distances from farm to retail market using surface and even air transport. The spoilage problem is even worse for small farmers in less developed countries like Kenya that lack abundent access to refrigeration. Up to 40% of mangoes “go spotty” and go to waste says Obadiah Kisaingu, “chair of the Masii Horticultural Farmer’s Cooperative Society in the Kenyan village of Masii."
“Apeel Sciences, Inc. founded eight years ago by James Rogers, a 35YO Ph.D. in materials science, has developed an odorless, tasteless, natural, plant-derived coating that extends produce shelf life even without refrigeration “by holding water in and keeping oxygen out.” Apeel, with a $1B valuation, has attracted financing from Oprah, GLC Pte LTD (Singapore), Bill and Melinda Gates, Andreesen Horowitz and other venture capitalists. The product “leapfrogs the necessity of cold-storage chains and brings products to mature markets, where farmers can get better value for their products.” “Apeel-treated fruits and vegetables are already in the largest grocery chains in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the U.S., as well as Walmart, Inc.” Mario Slunitschek…of Edeka…with 11,000 grocery stores in Germany says “We have 50% less waste of Apeel-treated produce and 30% more sales.” The problem of food spoilage creates greenhouse gases and causes up to $2.6 trillion in financial lose.