U.S.: Bill Gates-backed startup launches avocados with double shelf life

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U.S.: Bill Gates-backed startup launches avocados with double shelf life

Avocados treated with a shelf-life-enhancing product developed by Apeel Sciences are now rolling out at supermarket chain Costco, in the startup's first U.S. supplier and retailer partnership. 

CEO James Rogers.

California-based Apeel has developed a plant-derived product that it says naturally slows down produce spoilage - without the use of refrigeration or preservatives - and doubles the ripe time of avocados. 

Food suppliers spray the product on the produce before it ships to grocers.

Apeel Sciences was founded in 2012 by CEO James Rogers with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and was recently named a 2018 CNBC Disruptor 50.

On Tuesday the company announced Del Rey Avocado Company is supplying Apeel avocados to Costco Wholesale stores in the U.S Midwest. Apeel avocados supplied by Eco Farms are also now available at Harps Food Stores in the region.

The company says Apeel is the first plant-derived solution for extending produce shelf life. It hopes it will both help to reduce food waste and bring better quality avocados to supermarkets.

“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,” said Rogers.

The organic-certified product "adds a little extra peel" to the surface of fresh produce that naturally reinforces the plant’s own peel and slows the rate of water loss and oxidation, according to a release.

So far, the startup has developed products for more than three dozen crops, including asparagus, peaches, lemons, pears, and nectarines, but this is the first time the treated produce has been sold, Business Insider reported.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Apeel's first products as "generally recognized as safe," meaning they're okay to eat and sell. 

Last year, Apeel moved into a 105,000-square-foot facility, and at least six farms in Southern California, Kenya, and Nigeria are now using Apeel's products.

In the past several months, the company finalized negotiations to work with over two dozen packing houses and several farms in Mexico, Peru, and Chile to prepare for its commercial rollout, according to Business Insider.

Apeel has reportedly attracted at least US$40 million in venture-capital funding from several high-profile investors.


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