Apeel works to better protect produce from spoiling.
Apeel, which makes plant-based protection for produce, has raised $30 million in new funding.
Apeel said it will use its new funding and technology to help smallholder farmers in emerging markets, who suffer from some of the highest levels of food insecurity and waste, extend crop shelf life and gain access to new markets, including the Untied States and Germany. The funding round was led by International Finance Corp. (IFC), Temasek and Astanor Ventures.
The new funding comes amid news that Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart is working with Apeel to offer plastic-free English cucumbers to shoppers. The idea is to coat the produce with an edible substance that protects the product from moisture and oxygen.
"It's a misconception that people go hungry because we don't grow enough food. The issue is the intermittency of supply and an inability to convert perishable assets into economic value," said James Rogers, founder and CEO of Goleta, California-based Apeel. "The harsh reality is that it is nearly impossible today for most smallholder farmers to get their produce to a marketplace that will pay for it before it spoils. Apeel was founded on the belief that we can improve food security around the world by using technology to create opportunities for those who have limited or no access to the global food system."
In conjunction with Washington, D.C.-based IFC, Apeel's new programs for smallholder farmers will lead to the establishment of Apeel-powered supply chains in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.
Apeel's technology will also be used to improve domestic supply chains, reducing food loss without the use of refrigeration, while increasing access to nutrition and improving domestic economic opportunities for smallholder farmers, informal retailers and consumers within developing countries. With decreased food loss and improved quality throughout the supply chain, smallholder farmers will be able to access new market opportunities previously out of reach without a cold infrastructure or means for rapid transport.
"Innovative technologies can change the course of development in emerging markets and save livelihoods, economies and, in this case, food," said Stephanie von Friedeburg, interim managing director, as well as EVP and COO, of IFC. "We are excited to partner with Apeel to invest in a game-changing technology that can limit food waste by half, enhance sustainability, and mitigate climate change. By joining our forces and expertise, we will also help local farmers, distributors and retailers preserve produce and expand exports to markets that were previously too far to reach."