Avocados protected by Apeel’s edible skin are now available in tens of thousands of retail locations around the world through a network of suppliers in the key growing regions that support the US and EU markets including California, Mexico, Peru and Chile, as well as marketers and importers in the US and Europe, said Apeel, which has raised $390m to date from high-profile investors including Santa Barbara locals Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry.
Household names such as Index Fresh, Calavo, Del Monte and West Pak are the most recent to announce the availability of Apeel Avocados in the US, adding to an avocado supplier network pioneered by early partners including Horton Fruit Company, Del Rey Avocado, and Nature’s Pride.
New suppliers such as Chilean grower El Parque and Peruvian grower Agrícola Cerro Prieto provide greater retail access to key growing regions, said the company, which was founded by Dr James Rogers in 2012 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
With Apeel, retailers can see a 23% increase in marketable days for avocados between stages 4 and 5 - representing the ripeness that is most desirable for shoppers, claimed the company, which said retail partners have experienced, on average, a 50% reduction in avocado waste and an associated 10% increase in sales.
When Apeel is used, 39% more avocados also have good internal quality (after 8-10 days post-ripening) compared to avocados without Apeel, said the company, which has also developed solutions for limes, English cucumbers, apples, mandarins, and oranges.
Colorless, odorless, tasteless: ‘We use food to preserve food’
Supplied as a powder that can be mixed with water and sprayed onto produce or used as a dip, Apeel is made from plant extracts (primarily lipids from agricultural by-products such as tomato skins and seeds) which self-assemble into structures - an edible ‘skin’ of consistent thickness - that allow Apeel to independently modulate the rate of oxygen and carbon dioxide transmission to create an optimized microclimate. Put more simply, they keep moisture in, and oxygen out.
The lipid content does not, however, make Apeel waxy or greasy. Indeed, the primary attraction to retailers is that Apeel is both ‘all-natural’ and invisible: it’s colorless, odorless, tasteless and undetectable on produce (no sticky or waxy residue), says the company. “You can’t see it, smell it, taste it, or feel it. And it’s just plants. We use food to preserve food.”
Apeel is now producing commercial quantities of its invisible skin for avocados, limes, organic apples, cucumbers, mandarins, and oranges, with multiple other applications to follow spanning everything from asparagus to pineapples, mangoes, lemons and tomatoes.
Work on very short shelf-life products such as strawberries and raspberries, as well as cut-fruit, is also in progress, said Dr Rogers (pictured left, pic credit: Apeel Sciences), who said Apeel can help small farmers in emerging markets gain access to new markets.
“The harsh reality is that it is nearly impossible today for most smallholder farmers to get their produce to a marketplace that will pay for it before it spoils,” he told FoodNavigator-USA last year.
"Without access to a refrigerated supply chain, much of what a smallholder farmer produces can only reach small local markets where the supply of locally grown crops often far exceeds demand.”