Many an avocado lover has waited for the right moment to cut into the creamy fruit only to discover the fleeting window of perfect ripeness has passed.
A new technology that extends the life of avocados and other produce promises to save millions of avocados from an untimely end in the trash, and it's coming soon to grocery stores nationwide.
Apeel Sciences, a California startup that aims to reduce food waste by giving produce a spoilage-resistant skin, said last week its longer-lasting avocados will be sold at more than 1,100 Kroger grocery stores across the country.
Avocados treated with Apeel's protective coating tend to achieve ideal ripeness for four to six days, double the regular window, saving many from getting tossed. Pilot tests of Apeel avocados conducted over the past year at 109 Cincinnati-area Kroger stores, plus some Costco locations and other retailers, found they reduced food waste in the avocado category by 50% and increased sales by 10%, the startup said.
Apeel has created plant-based coatings for 50 different categories of fruits and vegetables, tripling the shelf life of some when it is applied shortly after harvest, founder and CEO James Rogers said. A pilot test of asparagus and limes treated with Apeel will launch this fall at Kroger stores in Cincinnati, which the chain called a milestone in its Zero Hunger|Zero Waste initiative.
Apeel, which launched in 2012 with a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was initially focused on helping poverty-stricken small farmers across the globe whose food goes to waste because they are not part of refrigerated supply systems. Extending the life of fruits and vegetables, nearly half of which never make it from farm-to-table, also addresses a massive food-waste problem in rich countries.
In the United States, supermarkets lose $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables, according to the Department of Agriculture. Billions more dollars in natural resources are squandered to grow produce no one eats.
Apeel now has $110 million in funding from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, with the latest round led by Viking Global Investors.