In September, Cincinnati-based retail giant The Kroger Co. announced that it would start selling Apeel-branded avocados nationwide.
Since then, Santa Barbara, California-based Apeel Sciences has upped the ante with new industry partnerships highlighting its shelf life-extending technology.
In October, Apeel announced an agreement with Delta, British Columbia-based Houweling’s Group, a world-renowned greenhouse vegetable grower and marketer. The Houweling’s Group will have access to Apeel’s plant-based technology to replace the single-use plastic wraps on its English cucumbers, reducing food and plastic waste at the same time, says Michelle Masek, Apeel’s spokesperson.
And in November, Apeel announced it was partnering with Yakima, Washington-based Sage Fruit Co. to bring organic Apeel apples to select markets, marking Apeel’s first major partnership in the apple category.
Several popular varieties will be offered, including Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith. The apple industry’s adoption of Apeel, which is approved for organics, means organic-conscious consumers can enjoy this iconic fruit during times of the year that were never possible before, Masek says.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” she says.
Made from materials found in plants, Apeel adds an extra “peel” to the surface of fresh produce to slow water loss and oxidation — two major factors that cause spoilage. For suppliers and retailers, Apeel is the only postharvest solution that creates an optimal microclimate inside every fruit or vegetable, maintaining quality, extending shelf life and transportability — with reduced reliance on refrigeration and controlled atmosphere.
“Apeel doubles to triples the shelf life of many types of fresh produce, which promotes more sustainable growing practices, better quality food, and less food waste from farm to retail shelf to home,” Masek says.
Apeel appeals to 21st century consumers concerned about sustainability and food waste, Masek says.
“Global concern for the environment is rising around the world, especially among younger generations, and people feel that living in a way that is good for themselves, good for other people and good for the environment is a priority,” she says, citing Globescan data. “That said, living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle is often seen as being too expensive, price being the greatest barrier for people living as sustainably as they want to.”
Apeel, Masek says, is the only approach to preventing food waste that’s plant-based and benefits everyone in the supply chain — from the grower all the way to the consumer at home.
“Suppliers have more control because they can allow fruit to reach peak quality and maintain it with Apeel, and they can ship in more desirable windows or gain access to new markets with longer transit times,” she says. “Retailers experience less food waste and can sell produce that retains its quality and freshness. And shoppers can purchase fruit with a longer window to enjoy it, wasting less food and money in the home.”
Food waste impacts all edges of the supply chain, and the Apeel team is hard at work expanding into new produce categories and markets, Masek says.
“Climate change is a growing global crisis, and a big contributor to that is food waste,” she says. “It contributes to roughly 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions and it’s estimated that up to 40% of all food produced is thrown away.”
Meanwhile, 1 in 8 American struggle with hunger, she points out. Saving even one-third of wasted food from landfills would help feed everyone in need. By extending shelf life and slowing down spoilage, Apeel dramatically reduces everyone’s food waste — from farmer to packer to retailer to consumers at home.
“We’re not doing anything new here,” Masek points out. “Nature has had the secret to keeping produce fresh for billions of years. Fruits and vegetables have the right approach to ‘packaging’ — skins and peels. We’re borrowing from nature’s playbook to create a next generation of solutions that operate as a part of nature — not apart from it.”
Apeel’s partnership with Kroger is expected to prevent millions of avocados from ending up in landfills while preserving dozens of acres of farmland and reduce thousands of metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions, Masek says.
And Apeel hopes that’s just the beginning. The company has the potential to transform how it moves fresh produce around the world while significantly impacting climate change by enabling food retailers to fight the food waste crisis head-on.
As part of its deal with Apeel, Kroger is also introducing two new produce categories — Apeel asparagus and Apeel limes — through a pilot in the Cincinnati market this fall.