“We’ve developed a way to leverage the parts of produce left behind on the farm to dramatically extend the shelf life of fresh produce,” says James Rogers with Apeel Sciences. “Our edible formulation slows down the rate that fruit and vegetables deteriorate helping them maintain a healthy state longer.”
Generally, produce can be dipped in the formulation or the formulation can be sprayed onto the produce items. Made entirely from food, Apeel’s products, InvisipeelTM for pre-harvest application and EdipeelTM for post-harvest application, unlock new opportunities to capture more economic value by increasing the marketable quality of fresh food.
Up to five times shelf life extension
Shelf life of fresh produce is limited due to oxidation and water loss, and Apeel’s product is able to slow down both processes. “Our product doesn’t have an active ingredient,” explained Rogers. “We blend up unused plant material, and from the blends we select a specific subset of food molecules and create the formulation.”
Although Apeel's products are invisible and undetectable, produce treated with the formulation will taste more fresh, according to Rogers. When fresh produce is dipped into the formulation, it leaves an invisible protective film when dried.
The sooner the product is applied after harvest, the better. As a result, Apeel primarily works with grower-shippers currently. “Recently, retailers have started to show interest for our product, as they would like to pause the ripening behavior of bananas,” shared Rogers. “Potentially, our product will be applied at the distribution center level of certain retail partners as well.”
Stops mold growth
In addition to oxidation and water loss, many grower-shippers have problems with mold. To reduce water loss, fresh produce is often stored in a high-humidity atmosphere. However, this creates a perfect environment for mold growth. The use of Edipeel allows grower-shippers to store their product at a lower relative humidity, stopping mold growth without fungicides.
Applicable to a broad range of global varieties
Apeel’s edible formulations can be applied to most fresh produce varieties. "It has been tested on more than two dozen varieties," said Rogers and works well on every type of produce tested so far. For some produce varieties, Apeel's application can extend shelf-life 5 times. Examples are citrus varieties such as oranges, lemons and limes. With avocados, Edipeel extends the normal shelf-life 1.5 times, and the application doubles shelf life of strawberries and blueberries as well as blackberries.
Removing refrigeration limitations in developing countries
Until now, Apeel’s products have been applied to produce in the US, Mexico, Chile, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. In African countries, it has been demonstrated to be effective as an alternative to refrigeration. “Keeping produce cold is a challenge in many regions of the world,” Rogers said. “By using our product, growers in developing countries are able to maintain marketable quality produce and increase their economic opportunity.” In Africa, the product serves as a mobile refrigerator. Due to the support of the Bill Gates Foundation, Apeel Sciences has been able to offer the product in Africa at low cost.