Disruptor 50 2020

34. Apeel

Founders: James Rogers (CEO), Louis Perez, Jenny Du
Launched: 2012
Headquarters: Goleta, California
 $360 million
Valuation: $1 billion
Key technologies:
Nanotechnology, material science, shelf-life extension technology
 Agriculture, food harvesting
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 2 (No. 48 in 2019)

George Kavallines

Food waste is a massive, if largely unspoken, problem on the planet. Approximately $2.6 trillion worth of food is wasted each year because it's spoiled before it can be consumed. Apeel was founded in 2012 to come up with a solution. The Goleta, California-based company has developed an edible substance that, when applied to the outside of harvested fruits and vegetables, creates an invisible shield that can double their lifespan without refrigeration. This, the company says, greatly reduces food waste at the supplier, retailer and consumer levels and helps preserve natural resources.

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Apeel's produce — oranges, apples, avocados, lemons, limes among them — is available in the U.S. in stores such as Kroger and Harps grocery stores and last year began expanding into Europe. In December it partnered with Nature's Pride, and its produce is now available in Germany and Denmark. The company's technology basically works like this: Plant materials that are left behind on the farm (leaves and peels, for instance) are blended, and then lipid molecules are extracted. The resulting powder is then turned into a liquid that is either sprayed on produce, or fruits and vegetables are dipped into the solution. It slows water loss and oxidation. The company's customers are farmers, growers and retailers. 

The Kroger Company has a partnership with Apeel as a part of its Zero Waste Zero Hunger Innovation Fund, carrying Apeel avocados in a Cincinnati store.
Why Oprah and Katy Perry invested in Apeel, a start-up trying to solve the food-waste crisis in the U.S.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Apeel says its technology has been in high dem