US – Invisible skin manufacturer Apeel has raised US$30m in new funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Temasek, and Astanor Ventures to help farmers in emerging markets reduce food waste.

Apeel said that farmers in emerging markets suffer from some of the highest levels of food loss due to wastage as they lack of the necessary infrastructure to keep their products fresh for longer.

The lack of refrigeration in the supply chain also limits most smallholder farmers in terms of market reach as they can only sell in their small local markets where the supply of locally grown crops often far exceeds demand.

Excessive supply results in lower prices for produce which eventually leads to systemic poverty, significant food loss and waste and even food insecurity for those who make their livelihoods from farming.

“It’s a misconception that people go hungry because we don’t grow enough food,” said James Rogers, founder and CEO of Apeel. “The issue is the intermittency of supply and an inability to convert perishable assets into economic value.”

Apeel’s food preservation technology will however come in handy in helping small holder farmers as it is fast, quick and efficient.

Supplied as a powder that can be mixed with water and sprayed onto produce or used as a dip, Apeel is made from plant extracts which self-assemble into structures – an edible ‘skin’ of consistent thickness – that keep the product fresh for longer.

Apeel says that its US retail partners include Kroger, Walmart, Harps Food Stores and using Apeel typically see a 50% reduction in shrink.

These retail stores according to Apeel also enjoyed a 5-10% growth in dollar sales, and an incremental 10% growth in dollar sales when they use instore marketing campaigns educating shoppers about Apeel’s benefits.

These are the benefits that Apeel intends to bring to farmers in emerging markets using the funds that it has recently raised.

Through a partnership with IFC, Apeel’s intends to roll out a new programme for smallholder farmers that will lead to the establishment of Apeel-powered supply chains in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.

Farmers will enjoy more time to market their fresh produce and greater access to higher-value markets previously out of reach because of inevitable perishability, according to Apeel.

“Innovative technologies can change the course of development in emerging markets and save livelihoods, economies, and in this case, food,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, interim managing director and executive vice-president, and chief operating officer, of IFC.

“We are excited to partner with Apeel to invest in a game-changing technology that can limit food waste by half, enhance sustainability, and mitigate climate change.

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