Apeel Sciences, known for its food-safe powder coating which is used to reduce food waste, raised $250 million in a Series E round of funding led by Temasek. The company now has funding that exceeds $635 million and a valuation of over $2 billion.
Some investors include Mirae Asset Global Investments, GIC, Viking Global Investors, sisters Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe and Susan Wojcicki of YouTube, and Katy Perry.
“The pandemic has completely shaken up food retail: people are increasingly buying their fresh produce online, while simultaneously expecting the best in terms of quality and sustainability,” said James Rogers, CEO of Apeel, in a statement.
“We’ll use our latest funding to help our supplier and retailer partners offer a differentiated experience to their shoppers: high-quality produce that’s less likely to go to waste at home. By using solutions by nature and for nature, and in collaboration with food supply chain partners around the world, we can ensure people everywhere have a great experience with their fresh produce while increasing the sustainability of the global food system,” he continued.
Apeel’s mission is to allow produce to last longer in order to reduce food waste. By using materials that exist in peels, seeds and pulp, the company has created an extra protective coating for produce that seals the moisture in and keeps oxygen out.
The extra layer created by Apeel does not affect the flavor of the fruit or vegetable; instead, it keeps it fresh and nutritious for twice as long. This act will, in turn, reduce the waste that is part of the food supply chain, which means less waste for the planet.
The layer of protection is tasteless, odorless and is plant-based. The material is made of lipids and glycolipids and is prepared as a powder and diluted with water. The material’s versatility allows the powder to be applied as a spray, dip, or brush. One way to distinguish Apeel produce compared to other regular fruit or vegetables is with a sticker placed on the produce indicating their brand.
According to Apeel’s website, 19 percent of avocados found in the supermarket are never purchased and 25 percent of avocados taken home are thrown out. But they believe by choosing Apeel and saving resources, consumers would save up to four gallons of water and enough energy to charge a smartphone five times.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, one-third of all food produced in the world each year never reaches the consumer’s table. Additionally, food waste accounts for 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This means that reducing it will impact our ability to fight climate change.
In May 2021, Apeel acquired ImpactVision, a hyperspectral imaging company, to gather information about the natural insides of every piece of produce. This includes metrics on the stage of ripeness, nutritional content and other information about the produce’s quality and shelf life. This will allow the company to integrate advanced imaging technology and make the data available to its partner showing them the effectiveness of the coating.
“ImpactVision’s technology can predict internal quality of food products from hyperspectral images. When this ability to ‘see beyond the borders of human vision’ is combined with Apeel’s shelf-life extension technology, the potential to fundamentally transform produce supply chains to reduce post-harvest loss, optimize distribution and lengthen shelf-life is enormous,” said Abi Ramanan, founder of ImpactVision in a different press release.
Apeel will be using the new funding to co-create new supply networks with produce suppliers and retailers. As a result, they hope to increase the availability of longer-lasting produce in the US, UK and Europe. Some of the produce include avocados, limes, mangoes, cucumbers and apples.
Currently, thirty supply networks use Apeel’s protective powder and distribute the produce to 40 retail partners and stores worldwide. The new funding will allow it to operate in 10 additional supply networks by the end of the year. Additionally, some of the most recent funding will be used to advance its data and insights offering.