Apeel, best known for its shelf-life-extension technology for produce, has raised a $250 million Series E round of funding led by Temasek.
Additional participants include Mirae Asset Global Investments, GIC, Viking Global Investors, Disruptive, Andreessen Horowitz, Tenere Capital, Sweetwater Private Equity, Tao Capital Partners, K3 Ventures, David Barber of Almanac Insights, Michael Ovitz of Creative Artists Agency, Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe, Susan Wojcicki of YouTube, and Katy Perry. The round brings Apeel’s total funding to date to over $635 million, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
The company’s food-safe powder coating was developed to cover pieces of produce, such as avocados, and act as a barrier against water and oxygen, which are major contributors to rot. Apeel will use the new funding in part to expand the availability of its coating product to additional parts of the U.S., U.K., and Europe. The company currently works with 40 retailers and 30 suppliers throughout eight different countries.
Earlier this year, Apeel acquired hyperspectral imaging company ImpactVision to add another layer of information about plant ripeness to its process. The advanced imaging technology can essentially look inside each piece of fruit and gather information about maturity, freshness, and phytonutrient content. With this information, suppliers and distributors can decide where each piece of produce can then go. For example, a more mature piece can go to a retailer closer by, so it can reach the store shelf sooner.
Apeel said today it will also use the new funds to advance such data and imaging capabilities and integrate those capabilities deeper into its system. The company suggested there could be more acquisitions in this area in the future.
In the U.S. alone, 35 percent of all food produced goes to waste, equalling about $408 billion annually and 4 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases. At the same time, more than 40 million Americans are considered food insecure. Recent data from Project Drawdown found reducing food waste to be first of 76 solutions meant to reverse climate change, ahead of plant-based diets and utility-scale solar projects.
Apeel’s edible coating is one method of fighting food waste. Others include Hazel Technology’s sachet that extends produce shelf life and Ryp Labs (née StixFresh), which makes a sticker that does much the same thing.
“Suppliers have a clock that’s ticking,” Apeel CEO James Rogers explained last year at a Spoon event. At the end of the day, he said, “we have to make the most environmentally beneficially solution the cheapest, easiest solution.”