This Startup Has a Natural Solution to the $2.6 Trillion Food Waste Problem — Apeel

By Beth Kowitt
April 28, 2017

By 2050 earth will be home to 9.7 bil­lion peo­ple, all of whom must be fed using less land and few­er resources. And it will have to be done as cli­mate change wreaks hav­oc on farmers.

We need to build a sys­tem that allows us to feed the pop­u­la­tion in a much more effi­cient man­ner,” says James Rogers, CEO of Apeel Sciences.

But to Rogers, effi­cien­cy isn’t about grow­ing more food. It’s about bet­ter uti­liz­ing the food that we already grow—a tremen­dous amount of which ends up spoil­ing before it ever reach­es con­sumers. The U.N.’s Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tions esti­mates that the glob­al cost of food waste is a whop­ping $2.6 tril­lion per year.

Rogers’ start­up is attempt­ing to solve the waste prob­lem by pro­long­ing the shelf life of produce—about a third of which ends up in land­fills in the U.S. (In devel­op­ing nations, that rate is even high­er because of a lack of access to refrig­er­a­tion tech­nol­o­gy.) To do it, he’s tack­ling the lead­ing cause of spoilage in fruits and vegetables—water get­ting out and oxy­gen get­ting in.

Five-year-old Apeel makes an edi­ble sub­stance that can be applied to the out­side of pro­duce, cre­at­ing an invis­i­ble bar­ri­er that Rogers says can dou­ble to quadru­ple shelf life. That’s key for grow­ers in devel­op­ing economies who want to access far­away mar­kets where their pro­duce com­mands a premium.

To read the full arti­cle, vis­it For­tune.