Part of the Food Tech and Social Entrepreneurship Series
What they do: Apeel Sciences re-purposes discarded plant parts into a protective layer that can be applied over fresh produce, doubling typical shelf life.
How they do it: Apeel Sciences takes oils from unused plant parts – such as stalks, leaves, and peels – and uses them to create an edible, micro-thin coating for fruit. The layer, which is completely invisible, tasteless and odorless, prevents water loss and oxidation, the two leading causes of spoilage.
Official mission: “We use our natural plant-based technologies to protect crops and harvested produce, helping to eliminate food spoilage and reduce reliance on chemicals.”
Latest project: Their post-harvest protection product, Edipeel, has been designated FDA-GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe, the same designation as vegetables), and has been successfully tested with organic growers. It will be used commercially beginning in 2017.
Major funding: Philanthropic grants,* Venture capital, and angel investments. (*Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Aid.)
Interesting fact about how they are working to change the food system: In the US, over one-third of all food grown is lost to spoilage. Apeel’s products help prevent food waste in addition to preserving the resources that go into food production. Since their products are made of discarded plants, they are edible, cost-effective, sustainable, and biodegradable.
Origin story: While James Rogers was obtaining his Ph.D. in materials science at UC Santa Barbara, he would often travel 300 miles north to the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories. As he drove past the farms on the way, he wondered how he could apply his research to sustainable agriculture. He teamed with Jenny Du, a fellow graduate student, and they started working in his garage to develop Edipeel in 2012.
How they make money: Selling Edipeel to fruit and vegetable producers.
Upcoming projects: Apeel Sciences is currently developing their pre-harvest product,Invisipeel, which prevents pests from detecting fresh produce. They are also working to meet regulatory approval in other countries.
Target clients: Food growers
Location: Goleta, California
Core Programs: Crop protection for postharvest (Edipeel) and preharvest (Invisipeel) applications
Number of staff and/or volunteers: 51-200 employees
Areas served: US, Mexico, Peru, Chile, South Africa, Japan and South Korea
Director: James Rogers, Science Director, and CEO