Apeel, the startup whose tech enables longer-lasting fresh produce, has just bagged $250 million in a fresh funding round. The round, led by Singapore’s Temasek, will go towards Apeel’s continued expansion across Europe, the U.S. and U.K. It will also help the firm forge new partnerships with suppliers and retailers to “further stamp out food waste”.
Californian startup Apeel has secured $250 million in Series E funding led by Singapore-based Temasek. GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, also participated in the round, alongside fellow Singapore-headquartered K3 Ventures, and global VCs including Viking Global, Mirae Asset, Andreessen Horowitz, Tenere Capital, among others.
Notably, singer-songwriter Katy Perry, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki backed Apeel in the round as well. The latest funds bring the company’s total amount raised to date to more than $635 million, with its valuation reaching over $2 billion.
Apeel says the proceeds will go towards ramping up availability of its technology across its U.S. domestic market, as well as in the U.K. and Europe. The company’s flagship solution is a plant-based protective “peel” that helps prevent spoilage in fresh produce, extending its shelf life by reducing water loss and oxidation.
“By using solutions by nature and for nature, and in collaboration with food supply chain partners around the world, we can ensure people everywhere have a great experience with their fresh produce while increasing the sustainability of the global food system,” said Apeel CEO James Rogers.
Rogers added that demand for fresh produce has only surged amid the pandemic, especially within e-commerce channels, making Apeel’s anti-food spoilage solution more important to retailers globally than ever before.
“The pandemic has completely shaken up food retail: people are increasingly buying their fresh produce online, while simultaneously expecting the best in terms of quality and sustainability,” he said. “We’ll use our latest funding to help our supplier and retailer partners offer a differentiated experience to their shoppers: high-quality produce that’s less likely to go to waste at home.”
10 more supply networks on the way
According to Apeel, the fresh Series E funds will help the company add 10 more supply networks before the end of this year. Currently, the firm operates around 30 supply networks in 8 countries, and distributes produce protected with its anti-food spoilage peel to 40 retail partners globally.
Some of the partners that Apeel works with include Del Monte, who are applying the coating at the packing site to protect avocados as they reach their retail destination. Last year, American retail giant Walmart began trialling the plant-based protective layer on cucumbers, replacing the single-use plastic film while also extending the shelf-life of produce.
Apeel says that since 2019, it has already prevented 42 million pieces of fruit from being spoiled at the retail stage, translating to GHG emissions savings of 10,000 metric tons and 4.7 billion litres of water.
Previously, the company told Green Queen Media that its network expansion plan will reach smallholder farmers in emerging markets, who make up 65% of the world’s poor working adults and a significant portion of the over 700 million people who continue to experience malnutrition and hunger.
With a number of Asian investors on board in its Series E, Apeel could be eyeing entry into Southeast Asian countries, home to many smallholder farmers who grow quickly-spoiled fruit like mangoes.
Read: 931 million tonnes of food sold is being wasted annually – UN index
Advancing data-driven tech
A portion of the funds will further go to “advance its data and insights offerings, including potential acquisitions,” said the company. Apeel recently acquired advanced imaging technology ImpactVision, which provides metrics on ripeness, nutritional content, and other indicators of quality and shelf life of produce.
“With its funding, the company will continue to integrate advanced imaging technology into its application systems and make this data available to its partners,” said Apeel.
All images courtesy of Apeel.