Apeel Sciences announced today that more than 20 leading suppliers from the global avocado industry have joined its network in an effort to keep more food out of landfills. New partners from the U.S., Latin America, and Europe will use Apeel’s plant-based coating technology that extends the life of fruits and vegetables, according to a press release sent to The Spoon. Doing so will further reduce food waste at consumer-facing levels like retail and the home.
Apeel’s technology, which is a food-safe powder coating made from plant oils, acts as a barrier that keeps water and oxygen out of the produce items to which it is applied. While the company is working with a few different produce types, among them asparagus and citrus fruits — it’s best known for its avocado coating. Apeel-coated avocados can be found in major U.S. grocery stores. The company said today that in 2020, it kept roughly 5 million avocados out of the landfill, and promises “much greater impacts” in 2021.
Keeping food out of landfills isn’t just a matter of saving grocery retailers and consumers money (though that’s an important benefit). Food waste is a leading contributor to climate change, and produce is one of the most common types of foods to go to waste. Recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that 14 percent of the world’s food is lost between the harvest and retail stages of the supply chain.
Apeel’s technology builds time into that food supply chain by extending the shelf life of produce that’s in transit and, depending on the region it’s in, may not have the advantage of cold chain infrastructure to aid in the preservation process. And as CEO James Rogers told me last year, building this time into the supply chain allows produce to reach exporters before it goes bad. Meanwhile, joining Apeel’s network can mean greater access to retail markets for many suppliers.
“[Food is] only valuable if the underlying infrastructure is there to make it valuable,” he said.
Among those suppliers joining the Apeel network are El Parque in Chile and Agricola Cerro Prieto in Peru. In the U.S., companies like Calavo, Del Monte, and West Pak have also joined the network.