Tired of fresh fruits and veggies spoiling before you have a chance to use them?
A new product that's currently rolling out at Kroger grocery stores across the country claims it can double — and in some cases even triple — the shelf life of produce that tends to rot quickly.
But how do they do it?
Enter Apeel, a company that says it is "fighting the global food waste crisis by utilizing nature's tools to prevent waste in the first place." In 2018, it was named as a CNBC Disruptor, a list of private companies behind innovations that may just change the world.
"Essentially, Apeel uses food to preserve food," Michelle Masek, a spokeswoman for Apeel Sciences, told TODAY Food by email, explaining that it creates a second skin on produce. The extra coating helps reinforce the plant's own natural peel and slows the rate of water loss and oxidation, which are the primary causes of spoilage.
However, the formulation used varies depending on the type of food, so it is not a one-size-fits-all product. Currently, Apeel has developed coatings not just for avocados, but for asparagus, limes and mandarins. Company scientists have tested the coating on approximately 50 items and expect more fruits and veggies to be made available in a few years. While Apeel's coating does help avocados stay ripe longer, it doesn't keep them from browning after they've been sliced. Still, the average ripe avocado stays fresh for about three to fours days on a kitchen counter and up to 10 days if stored in the fridge. Apeel says its ripe avocados will stay fresh enough to eat for six days. If purchased before peak ripeness, the Apeel-treated avocados may last up to a month.
The proprietary coating is made from materials found within fruits and is both edible and organic, according to Masek. It starts as a powder that is mixed with water so the solution can be applied by spraying, dipping or brushing. It has no color, no taste and no odor. The coating also comes in formulations that can be used on USDA Certified Organic produce, though the coating itself is not organic.
Helping produce last longer means fewer items will need to be thrown in the trash at the store or at home, so Apeel says its produce is at the forefront of combating the global problem of food waste.
"This means better quality and longer shelf life and less food waste at home," Masek said. "For grocers, it means fresher, differentiated produce and less waste in the store."
Kroger is currently selling Apeel avocados at stores in Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Stores in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee are scheduled to receive the new avocados in October. The company will also start testing sales of its asparagus and limes at stores in the Cincinnati area this fall.
In addition to Kroger, consumers can find Apeel produce in independent supermarkets serviced by AWG, as well as in select Costco and Harps Food Stores.
According to Apeel, after Harps' stores began selling Apeel avocados, the grocer saw a 10% rise in sales of Hass avocados.