Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry are backing California-based company Apeel Sciences’ food waste prevention technology.
Apeel Sciences began as a startup with a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation. Now, it has revealed it has received an additional $250 million in financing for its preservative technology. GIC led the investment, helping to bring the company’s market worth to more than $1 billion.
Additional participating investors include Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, and Rock Creek Group.
Talk show host Winfrey—who invested in the company in 2019—joined the effort as a minority, non-participatory investor, alongside pop singer Perry.
The new financing will help the company tackle food waste on a global scale.
Apeel’s innovative design uses plant-derived solutions to add additional layers to the surfaces of fruits and vegetables. This extends the shelf-life of many types of produce on store shelves without the need for refrigeration. The technology also extends the shelf-life of produce at home.
“The [food] system is taxed beyond its limit,” Apeel Sciences founder and CEO James Rogers told Tech Crunch. He added: “We view our job at Apeel to build the food system. [It must support] the weight of a couple of more billion people on the planet.”
“I hate to see food wasted. [T]here are so many people in the world who are going without,” Winfrey said in a statement. “Apeel can extend the life of fresh produce. [This] is critical to our food supply and our planet too.”
This year, the company is on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from going to waste.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says about 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted globally each year. Food waste is highly pollutive. It emits 3.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gases each year.
Rogers believes food waste is an “invisible tax.” He says it impacts everyone involved in the global food system. “Eliminating global food waste can free up $2.6 trillion annually, allowing us to make the food ecosystem better for growers, distributors, retailers, consumers, and our planet,” Rogers said.
He continued: “Together, we’re putting time back on the industry’s side to help deal with the food waste crisis.”
The company says its new technology is incredibly important, especially during the pandemic. This is because the coronavirus outbreak has caused major disruptions in the food supply chain.
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