apeel fruit

Source: Apeel Sciences 

The company’s coating could extend shelf life of produce by a factor of three, said founder James Rogers

Fruit and veg treated with a shelf life-extending coating will go on sale in UK supermarkets from this autumn.

The tasteless, invisible and odourless coating has been developed by US tech firm Apeel Sciences and can “double or even triple the shelf life of produce”, said founder and CEO James Rogers.

Products treated with the coating will go on sale across several major UK retailers in October, with avocados and citrus fruit set to be the first products to carry the Apeel logo in UK stores. However, Rogers stressed there was also interest in using the coating on a number of other products.

Apeel is made from plant-derived materials found in seeds and fruit pulp. It works by effectively creating an extra layer of peel and an air-tight barrier, which slows the decaying process by locking in moisture.

After attracting investment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and US investment firms S2G Ventures, Viking Global Investors and Upfront Ventures, products carrying Apeel’s coating went on sale in US retailers Costco and Kroger, as well as other regional grocers, last summer.

Since then, avocado waste had reduced by about 50% in those retailers, Rogers added.

With the coating achieving European Commission and Defra approval earlier this month, the business was now gearing up for a UK launch, he said, and was in discussions with a number of the UK’s leading supermarket chains.

“Losses in fresh produce supply chains are staggering,” Rogers said, particularly in retail environments and in the home.

“During transportation and storage you’re able to very precisely control the storage conditions for produce. It is essentially a damp cold box, and as a result, you can slow the ageing process by a factor of four to five times,” he added.

“The problem is that optimal merchandising conditions for produce are the exact opposite of the optimal storage conditions. By adding an extra layer of peel to fresh produce, Apeel can bring the benefits of refrigeration and storage onto store shelves.”

The UK was a prime target for the business due to its proximity from many fresh produce growing areas, Rogers suggested.

“We will be working with major UK grocers and their suppliers, and you’ll be able to walk into these stores and pick up an Apeel-branded avocado or citrus. That logo is the indication for shoppers that the product will be better tasting, longer lasting, better for you and better for the planet.”