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Costco Debuts Edible Coating

Friday, June 22, 2018

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Wholesale market corporation Costco recently started stocking its shelves with avocados that are covered in an invisible, edible coating—made from leftover plant skins and stems—intended to lock in moisture and keep out gases that catalyze the ripening process.

California-based startup Apeel Sciences, spearheaded by UC Santa Barbara Ph.D. candidate James Rogers, developed the coating, with the intention of reducing food waste by extending the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Costco is one of a handful of grocery stores experimenting with selling the produce.

Apeel-ing Proposition

According to CNBC, the coating is thin, invisible, tasteless and has the FDA designation of “generally recognized as safe.” It begins as a powder, which is then mixed with water to create a solution that produce can be dipped into. As a result, the coating acts as a seal that slows oxidation and water loss.

Apeel Avocado Timelapse from Apeel Sciences on Vimeo.

“It means you're throwing out less produce and it means higher quality produce in your refrigerator," said Rogers. "We're slowing down the rate the clock is ticking. And by doing that, you have more of an opportunity to enjoy the food in your home, and you're going to be throwing away a lot less of it."

Rogers himself is trained in polymer physics, and when he told his mother he wanted to apply his training to the produce industry, she dismissed the idea, noting that it was a nice idea, but he didn’t really “know anything about fruits and vegetables.”

reFed, an organization composed of nonprofits and big food companies alike, conducted a study that revealed food waste costs U.S. retailers more than $18 billion a year. Rogers noted that his company’s focus is currently on reducing shrink on the shelves, which can improve sales in different produce categories.

"We're not thinking about this as only being a solution in one small area of the world. We're thinking really big," said Rogers.

It remains unclear whether or not the coating will be available for personal use.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Coating Materials; Coatings Technology; Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Polymers

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/25/2018, 4:49 PM)

Okay, what's new about this particular product? Suppliers have been waxing fruits and such for a very long time (edible coating, thin, nearly invisible, reduces moisture loss and extends lifespan) Does it work better than existing products? If so, how? Does it cost less? Etc.

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