Organic-approved produce coating promises to extend shelf life of fruits and vegetables, open new markets for farmers
Published: June 6, 2018
Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
A new company has developed an all-natural, virtually invisible coating that could significantly increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables such as avocados, mangoes, and cassava root.
Apeel Sciences was founded in 2012 by James Rogers, who says he got “fired up” about the problem of food waste. At the time, Rogers was working with ultrathin polymers for use in the solar energy business at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. He figured he could use the same principles to make thin coatings that would preserve fruits and vegetables and have other benefits, like reducing or even eliminating the need for refrigeration and pesticides.
Today, Apeel coatings are edible, approved for use on organic products, and deemed “generally recognized as safe” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company is rolling out its coatings on avocados this summer in partnership with several major grocery chains.
The coatings have also been successfully used on mangoes. Kenyan farmer John Mutio had lost more than one-third of his mango crop as it rotted before he could find a buyer for the fruit. But in 2016, he only lost a handful of fruit using Apeel, which he applied to his mangoes. Mutio said Apeel allowed him to store the mangoes at room temperature for 25 days.
Apeel has found ways to coat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to delay ripening and prevent spoilage caused by various pests. The coatings are imperceptible and non-toxic, making them ideal not only for farms in the developing world but to major produce companies in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.
The Rockefeller Foundation has backed Apeel’s African venture as part of its Yieldwise program, a project to reduce post-harvest waste among small farmers in Africa. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also a company partner.
Source: Civil Eats
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