Greenhouse vegetable grower Houweling’s Group announced this week it has partnered with Apeel to launch its plastic-free cucumbers at select Walmart locations, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
Cucumbers very often land on grocery store shelves shrink-wrapped in plastic. This is done to protect the skin, which on a variety like an English cucumber, is especially thin. The plastic wrapping also extends the shelf life of the cucumber once it’s in your fridge.
Apeel, which raised $250 million in May of this year, is in the business of extending produce shelf life without the need for extra packaging materials. The company makes an edible “peel” that can provide the protection and shelf-life extension of plastic. It does this with a foodsafe powder derived from plant oils. When applied to produce, it creates a barrier that keeps water and oxygen out. Apeel has developed different proprietary coatings for different produce types, including apples, avocados, and, now, cucumbers.
Apeel is one of several companies working to make produce last longer. It’s most notable counterparts right now are Stix Fresh, which makes a sticker that can extend produce shelf life by two weeks when placed on the fruit or vegetable, and Hazel Technologies, whose packaging inserts for bulk fruit and vegetable boxes slow ripening. Apeel’s most obviously parallel competitor is Sufresca, a company that also makes an edible coating for produce.
The partnership with Houweling’s Group marks the first time Apeel has used its coating technology to not just extend the life of produce but also do away with extra packaging. Houweling’s said in this week’s press release that every 500,000 cases of English cucumbers shipped with Apeel’s coating eliminates the equivalent of 820,000 single-use plastic water bottles from the supply chain.