RipeLocker, a Seattle-area startup that makes specialized containers to extend the life of fresh food after harvest, announced yesterday that it has raised a $5 million Series B round of funding. GeekWire was first to report the news, writing that the round was led by angel investors. The total amount raised by RipeLocker is now $12 million.
RipeLocker’s patented technology precisely manages the atmosphere (oxygen, pressure, CO2 and humidity) inside its containers to extend the freshness of perishables. The containers are pallet-sized, made from recyclable material and are reusable. They’re also stackable and can be used in the cold chain, with 40 RipeLockers able to fit inside an ocean or truck refrigeration container.
The company says that it has already completed several trials with berries, pomegranates, cherries, papayas, fresh hops and flowers. According to the funding announcement yesterday, RipeLocker’s containers held freshly harvested organic blueberries in “pristine condition” for eight weeks. The company also said that its RipeLockers extended the life of fresh hops by six weeks.
Approximately 1.3 billion tons of edible food around the world is wasted every year, and that number could reach 2.1 billion tons by 2030. By extending the life of fresh food, RipeLockers can help tackle this waste problem in the supply chain and also bring fresher food to places farther away from farms.
RipeLocker is among a number of new startups that are using technology to improve the way we ship perishables. Companies like Zayndu and Clean Crop Technologies run electricity inside special containers to kill off mold and bacteria and extend the life of fresh food. And TeleSense combines sensors and IoT to monitor the humidity and temperature of grains as they are stored and transported.
RipeLocker said that its containers will become commercially available this summer, and that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started trialing its containers as a chemical-free quarantine replacement.