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08/18/2021

Food Science Startup Apeel Now Valued at $2B

Company adds $250M to accelerate innovation, sustainability in fresh food supply chains
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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Food Science Startup Apeel Now Valued at $2B
Apeel will use its new funding to co-create new supply networks with produce suppliers and retailers that will increase the availability of longer-lasting produce, including avocados.

With demand for fresh, sustainable food on the rise, startup company Apeel has gained $250 million in Series E funding to help speed up the availability of longer-lasting produce. The food science company's total funding now exceeds $635 million, with a valuation more than $2 billion dollars.

Apeel creates plant-based protection that 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 cause produce to spoil. Farmers can sell more of what they grow, retailers can sell more of what they source and people can enjoy more of what they buy.

This sustainable method also helps eliminate food waste. Food waste accounts for roughly 8% of global greenhouse gases, which makes reducing it an impactful action that people can take to fight climate change, as indicated by the Food and Agriculture Organization. This new investment will be used in part to accelerate Apeel's partnerships and plant-based products that aim to prevent food waste at every step of the fresh food supply chain, including for the consumer at home, where approximately 25% of produce purchased goes to waste in American households, according to ResearchGate.

"The pandemic has completely shaken up food retail: People are increasingly buying their fresh produce online while simultaneously expecting the best in terms of quality and sustainability," said James Rogers, CEO of Goleta, Calif.-based Apeel. "We'll use our latest funding to help our supplier and retailer partners offer a differentiated experience to their shoppers: high-quality produce that's less likely to go to waste at home. By using solutions by nature and for nature, and in collaboration with food supply chain partners around the world, we can ensure people everywhere have a great experience with their fresh produce while increasing the sustainability of the global food system."

Singapore-based global investment firm Temasek led this latest financing round. Apeel has also attracted some high-profile investors, including singer Katy Perry; Anne Wojcicki, of genomics and biotechnology company 23andMe; and Susan Wojcicki, of YouTube. Other Apeel investors include Mirae Asset Global Investments; GIC; Viking Global Investors; Disruptive; Andreessen Horowitz; Tenere Capital; Sweetwater Private Equity; Tao Capital Partners; K3 Ventures; David Barber, of Almanac Insights; and Michael Ovitz, of Creative Artists Agency.

As mentioned, Apeel will also use its new funding to co-create new supply networks with produce suppliers and retailers that will increase the availability of longer-lasting produce, including avocados, limes, mangoes, cucumbers and apples, for consumers across the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Today, Apeel has teams and partners on the ground in eight countries, operating 30 supply networks that apply Apeel's plant-based protection to produce, capture internal and external data, and distribute Apeel-protected produce to 40 retail partners and tens of thousands of stores around the world. With its new funding, the company plans to operationalize at least 10 additional supply networks by the end of the year.

Additionally, the company will use its funding to advance its data and insights offerings, including potential acquisitions. In May 2021, Apeel revealed its first acquisition: an advanced imaging technology that provides access to the natural database inside of every piece of produce, including valuable metrics such as stage of ripeness, nutritional content, and other indicators of quality and shelf life. 

According to Apeel, it has prevented 42 million pieces of fruit from going to waste at retail since 2019, which has helped avoid 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide- equivalent greenhouse gas emissions and conserve nearly 4.7 billion liters of water. Food retailers that carry Apeel produce have also reported increases in shopper satisfaction due to produce that stays fresher for longer while maintaining quality, and up to 50% reductions in avocado food waste with corresponding sales growth. 

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