Food waste is a big problem globally. A third of the food produced for human consumption is either wasted or lost globally. That amounts to about 1.3 billion tons a year.
One company that has a solution to food waste that is plant-based is California-based Apeel Sciences, started in 2012. The company came up with a solution that allows farmers, suppliers, and retailers to double the lifespan of harvested fruits and vegetables without refrigeration. It ships a powder to farmers and suppliers that they mix with water and apply to the surface of produce. A thin layer is left on the produce that is tasteless and slows water loss and oxidation, the main factors that cause produce to spoil.
Made of lipids and glycerolipids derived from plants, Apeel is fully compliant with all U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations and is designated as "Generally Recognized As Safe." Produce sprayed with it lasts twice as long, and it is good for both organic and conventionally grown food.
Only avocados are currently treated with apeel, but the company states on its website that it has been effective at improving the shelf life and quality of over two dozen types of fruits and vegetables. Avocados treated with Apeel are sold at Kroger grocery stores, the largest retailer in the U.S. Del Rey Avocado Company began supplying avocados treated with Apeel to Costco Wholesale stores in the U.S. Midwest.
"We're excited to be working with exceptional partners as they share our vision of a food system that provides better quality food for all and less waste," said James Rogers, CEO and Founder of Apeel Sciences in a statement.
Apeel is a solution to reduce the huge amounts of wasted food in North America
Apeel can help reduce waste in North America where 168 million tons of food is wasted every year. Americans waste 915 pounds per capita, while Canadians waste 873 pounds per capita, according to a report by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The biggest share of food waste occurs at the consumer level. While up to 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted, one in eight Americans are food poor, struggling to put enough food on the table.
Food waste is bad for the environment, exacerbating climate change. As a result of the food waste in North America, there are 193 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the life-cycle of wasted food, which is equivalent to the emissions from 41 million cars driven for a year. Food waste costs money. The U.S. retail food sector creates eight million tons of waste a year in distribution centers and stores, amounting to $18 billion a year in lost value for retailers.
"With our partners, we believe we can increase the availability and accessibility of high quality, nutritious produce while simultaneously preserving our natural resources and environment," Rogers said.