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Apeel Increases Its Influence on Retail Produce

Food tech company hires VP of retail advisory; CEO joins International Fresh Produce Association
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Apeel Increases Its Influence on Retail Produce
Jim Smits

Food tech company Apeel has revealed two important appointments that are poised to impact the fresh category. The company has hired Jim Smits as VP of retail advisory, a new role designed to align Apeel’s solutions with the needs of retail grocery executives in operations, merchandising, marketing and fresh produce. Additionally, Apeel CEO James Rogers has been appointed technology council chair for the newly formed International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA). These new roles will enable Apeel to collaborate with executives and thought leaders in the fresh food system who are focused on the urgent need to reduce waste while serving the needs of fresh produce consumers.

According to Deloitte's third annual report on the future of fresh food, 60% of consumers think that the shelf life of fresh food has decreased. Apeel provides grocers with new opportunities to provide a differentiating credential of sustainability, as well as a guarantee for longer-lasting quality.

The food tech company is the creator of an edible coating for produce that helps to extend the product's shelf life. The plant-based protection allows for longer-lasting produce by using materials already found in the skins, peels, and seeds of all fruits and vegetables. This protective extra “peel” slows the water loss and oxidation that causes produce to spoil.

Smits will lead Apeel’s efforts to help retailers capture consumer demand for fresher, longer-lasting and more sustainable fruits and vegetables. He brings 40 years of retail experience — including more than 20 years in executive-level leadership roles at nationally recognized grocers such as H-E-B, Albertsons, Ahold and Dollar General. Smits will also lead Apeel’s Retail Advisory Council, a collection of retail executives focused on innovation, consumer engagement and supply chain optimization. 

“I’m proud to join Apeel, as our innovations align perfectly with the needs of today’s consumer while reducing waste,” said Smit. “Together with our retail partners, we’ll deliver an exceptional fresh produce experience online and in-store, and develop consumer programs that highlight a differentiation in quality, shelf life, freshness and environmental sustainability.”

Apeel Increases Its Influence on Retail Produce
James Rogers

Meanwhile, Apeel’s experience working with the world’s leading fresh produce suppliers will be leveraged to identify opportunities for technology to further strengthen relationships with retailers through Apeel’s CEO appointment as chair of the IFPA. The organization was created by the United Fresh Produce Association the and Produce Marketing Association to supersede their organizations, effective Jan. 1, 2022. The international association is intended to serve the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain, integrating world-facing advocacy and industry-facing support.

“The retail sector is looking for partners to help meet today’s complex needs, while securing their operations against disruptions,” said Rogers. “Based on years of working with the top retailers and suppliers across the globe, we have a deep understanding of the needs of the food system and have seen firsthand how technology can make the food ecosystem better. One of the needs Apeel has addressed through technology is to put time back on the industry’s side and provide insights that help our partners optimize distribution. The ever-evolving food landscape is going to require ongoing adoption and integration of new technologies in the coming years, and I’m honored to support the International Fresh Produce Association in their mission to put technology to work for the food industry.”

Apeel’s plant-based protection is available for an ever-growing number of categories and markets, including organic and conventionally grown produce. The company  recently received an Impact Award from Progressive Grocer for its work in sustainability/resource conservation.  

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