By 2050 earth will be home to 9.7 billion people, all of whom must be fed using less land and fewer resources. And it will have to be done as climate change wreaks havoc on farmers.
“We need to build a system that allows us to feed the population in a much more efficient manner,” says James Rogers, CEO of Apeel Sciences.
But to Rogers, efficiency isn’t about growing more food. It’s about better utilizing the food that we already grow—a tremendous amount of which ends up spoiling before it ever reaches consumers. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organizations estimates that the global cost of food waste is a whopping $2.6 trillion per year.
Rogers’ startup is attempting to solve the waste problem by prolonging the shelf life of produce—about a third of which ends up in landfills in the U.S. (In developing nations, that rate is even higher because of a lack of access to refrigeration technology.) To do it, he’s tackling the leading cause of spoilage in fruits and vegetables—water getting out and oxygen getting in.
Five-year-old Apeel makes an edible substance that can be applied to the outside of produce, creating an invisible barrier that Rogers says can double to quadruple shelf life. That’s key for growers in developing economies who want to access faraway markets where their produce commands a premium.
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