Published 9:31 AM EDT Sep 18, 2019
Tired of throwing away spoiled produce?
Apeel Sciences says it has gotten to the root of the problem and developed a technology that can double or possibly triple the shelf life of many types of produce, including avocados.
Apeel CEO James Rogers, who founded the Santa Barbara, California-based company in 2012, said Apeel’s plant-derived technology gives produce an extra “peel” that slows the rate of water loss and oxidation, the primary causes of spoilage.
“We use food to preserve food,” Rogers said of the edible coating that’s applied to produce. “You can’t see it, you can’t taste it, you can’t feel it, but by precisely controlling the combination of plant materials that we use with these formulas, we’re able to slow down the rate that a piece of fruit ages.”
Apeel’s longer-lasting avocados will soon be available in more than 1,100 Kroger stores.
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On Wednesday, Apeel and the Cincinnati-based grocer jointly announced the expansion of its Midwest avocado pilot at 109 stores to a coast-to-coast roll-out. Additional stores will be added as more of Kroger’s suppliers install Apeel application systems.
The two also announced Apeel limes and asparagus will be piloted in Cincinnati locations.
Frank Romero, Kroger vice president of produce, said in a statement that this was a milestone in the retailer’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan, which is to eliminate waste across the company by 2025 and end hunger in its communities.
According to Kroger, 40% of food produced in the U.S. is thrown away and households waste more than $1,300 in unused food annually. About 160 billion pounds of discarded food ends up in landfills each year, according to Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic.
“Apeel’s innovative food-based solution has proven to extend the life of perishable produce, reducing food waste in transport, in our retail stores and in our customers’ homes,” Romero said.
Walter Robb, former CEO of Whole Foods Market and a member of Apeel’s board of directors, said the company “represents an extraordinary breakthrough in reducing food waste” by using food to preserve food.
“As a fresh grocer for over 40 years, I can truly say that I have never seen anything like Apeel, and I believe it has the potential for global impact on the food system,” Robb said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Apeel is working to expand to additional retailers and adding more fruits and vegetables into its mix including berries and tomatoes, Rogers said.
“I believe that in the future you’re going to be able to walk into a grocery store and there will be a section of Apeel produce and you’ll shop for them the same way we shop for organic today,” he said.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko