Ahead of Future Food-Tech San Francisco, we spoke to James Rogers, Co-Founder of Apeel Sciences about reducing plastics in food, the future of food waste solutions and what he is looking forward to at this year’s summit.
For those who are unfamiliar with Apeel Sciences, how does your technology have the potential to put an end to plastic in food?
We have the chance to make a sizable and growing impact on plastic usage, simply because where plastic is being used as a protective layer to reduce water loss and preserve food, Apeel is a sustainable replacement. For example, Long English cucumbers last less than a week without plastic, meaning in market there is nearly universal use of single use plastic to extend shelf life. But with the Apeel solution, we are able to exceed the performance of that plastic on cucumbers, and completely supplant its use. We keep cucumbers fresh, and even retain color better.
Can you give us an example where you have worked with a food company to solve their challenges with plastic in food?
At PMA in October, we announced a partnership with Houweling’s that is going to be truly impactful in reducing plastic. In 2020, we will be rolling out plastic-free Houweling’s Long English cucumbers with Apeel, and expanding our campaign to #freethecucumbers throughout the supply chain. With Houweling’s in year one alone, we will offset the equivalent amount of plastic for 85 million plastic straws.
This year you launched your technology into Europe. What other regions do you feel urgently need food waste solutions to combat this global challenge?
Looking forward, we believe there is an opportunity to extend our impact throughout the supply chain to retailers and suppliers across multiple, additional produce categories (this year we added Apeel limes and apples to our offerings), as well as to farmers outside the cold chain in places like Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. We did our initial trials of Apeel in Kenya, and saw first-hand the impact we could make bringing new opportunities to farmers who lack access to consistent market transport and the cold chain itself. On the flip side, we see opportunities to reach deep into regions that may have access to global markets, but have limited cold chain distribution to reach markets in-country; a familiar challenge in places like China, and elsewhere in Asia with large populations and varied levels of development.
There is a lot of buzz around plastic waste and packaging, and many other companies are trialing new ways to replace plastic packaging. What other solutions do you feel have the potential to be a long-term solution?
It is an exciting time to be in materials science, with multiple approaches to tackling the plastic challenge be it in food wrapping or on the retail level. We work upstream to reduce the need to use plastic in packaging, but you’re also seeing retailers offering compostable produce bags and other solutions that impact the consumer use of plastic. Overall, we are excited to be part of an effort to reduce plastic use, and eliminate waste associated with it.
What will you be looking out for at Future Food-Tech San Francisco this year?
I am eager to hear from the other speakers and connect with the Future Food-Tech community!
James Rogers, Co-Founder of Apeel Sciences will be speaking on the panel True Disruption: The End of Plastic in Foods at 12:15pm on March 20.