Spray this invisible, edible coating on produce and it could last five times longer

Leanna Garfield

Apeel helps organic and traditional fresh food producers and retailers deliver superior quality fruits and vegetables with double the lifespan after harvest.

From the time a farmer harvests strawberries or green beans, they will last — at best — three weeks before they start to rot. It usually takes a week or two for the food to reach the grocery store and then your fridge, leaving you only a few days to eat them.

A Santa Barbara, California-based startup called Apeel Sciences has invented an edible coating called Edipeel that it says can extend a fruit or vegetable's shelf life by as much as five times. If you spray it on a ripe strawberry, for example, the company claims the fruit will last up to a week longer than normal.

Made of leftover plant skins and stems, the coating acts as a barrier that slows the decay process. You can apply it to produce anytime during its lifespan — Apeel even claims they were able to make a bunch of bananas grown at the same time ripen on different days.

A year after its launch in 2016, Apeel has moved into a 105,000-square-foot facility. At least six farms in Southern California, Kenya, and Nigeria are using Apeel's products, CEO James Rogers told Business Insider. The company is also finalizing negotiations to work with at least two dozen packing houses and several farms in Mexico, Peru, and Chile for a "very large commercial rollout" to the US, Rogers said.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Apeel's first products as "generally recognized as safe," meaning they're okay to eat and sell. The company also recently received approval to use Edipeel on organic produce.

Here's how the product works.

After the coating dries, it acts as a shield to natural gases (e.g. oxygen and ethylene) that make produce decay.

Edipeel is engineered to keep water from leaving a fruit or vegetable and prevent oxygen from entering. Apeel is also working on a second product called Invisipeel that's designed to keep insects away but is not yet widely available.

Edipeel's formula differs for each fruit or vegetable.The startup has so far developed Edipeel products for three dozen crops, including avocados, asparagus, peaches, lemons, pears, and nectarines.

Farms and food packing houses are now able to buy Apeel's products. Edipeel is usually sprayed on produce during the wash cycle, before produce is sorted and packed to go to retailers.

Spray this invisible, edible coating on produce and it could last five times longer

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