Apeel has partnered with Wakefern Food Corp. to bring the sustainable produce supplier's limes to grocery stores in the Northeast, the company announced Wednesday.
Apeel, a private company that uses shelf-life technology to extend the lifespan of fruits and vegetables, expects the deal with Wakefern, the largest U.S. retailer-owned supermarket cooperative, will save 1.4 million limes from going bad each year.
"We're really excited," Apeel CEO James Rogers told CNBC's Jim Cramer in a "Mad Money" interview Thursday. "First product on shelves there with limes. Again, this is just the beginning. Last time we spoke we introduced a product for avocados, now with limes, organic apples, mandarins, oranges. You know, more grocers, more produce categories and more shoppers."
Wakefern brand stores ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market will begin carrying Apeel's limes this month. The cooperative includes more than 360 supermarkets located in the U.S. Northeast.
The length and value of the deal were not announced.
Wakefern's chief merchandising officer, Bryant Harris, said in a news release that the enterprise is "continually exploring new ways to improve the sustainability of the foods we source, so that our shoppers can feel good knowing that the fruits and vegetables they enjoy also help reduce waste and are better for the environment."
Apeel, which placed No. 34 on CNBC's 2020 Disruptor 50 list, was founded in 2012 with the mission of addressing a multitrillion-dollar issue of food waste around the globe, he said. The Goleta, California-based business developed an edible coating to protect fruits and vegetables, doubling their shelf life without refrigeration. The company has deals with Kroger and Harps grocers and supplies the largest grocers in Germany and Denmark.
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The coating on Apeel's limes limits how fast the limes lose water. Wakefern plans to roll out Apeel's avocados in the future.
"We've been in a food crisis," Rogers said. "Food waste today is this invisible tax that's been posed on our food system to the tune of $2.6 trillion annually, and by reducing that waste we can free up all of that value back to everyone that participates in the food system, which is every one that eats."
The Apeel business, which has $360 million in funding and a $1 billion valuation, appealed to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry, who contributed toward a $250 million fundraising round led by GIC in May. Apeel placed No. 48 on last year's Disruptor list.
"They see the same future we do, with all this waste and with 1 in 9 people going hungry, there's a massive rebuild of the food system on a foundation that's going to support more people and our planet," Rogers said.