Startup Backed by Gates Foundation Uses Food Waste to Reduce Food Waste

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In California, a startup is protecting plants pre- and post-harvest by converting plant waste into edible solutions for pest protection and shelf-life extension.

Apeel Sciences, based in Santa Barbara, says its Invisipeel deposits a layer of unfamiliar molecules onto a plant pre-harvest that camouflages it from bacteria, fungi, and insects. Its Edipeel product works post-harvest to extend shelf-life by slowing water loss and oxidation.

Both products are tasteless and odorless and are made from plant waste, such as grape pressings, orange peels, tomato skins, watermelon rinds, and broccoli stalks.

Apeel founder Dr. James Rogers tells Food Tank the company was founded in 2012 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. “We have a mutual goal of reducing hunger and poverty for millions of farming families and doing so in a sustainable way,” he says. “Our plant-based, edible solution to extending the lifespan of fresh food made Apeel a natural partner for the Foundation’s agricultural development program, which focuses on eliminating starvation and malnutrition in developing countries.”

The company, which recently received a $33-million Series B financing led by Andreessen Horowitz and DBL Partners, plans to ramp up production in the coming quarter. Both Invisipeel and Edipeel have received Generally Recognized as Safe certification from FDA.