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Food & Hunger

Bill Gates-Backed Startup Makes Avocados Last Twice as Long

Avocado lovers, rejoice!

Apeel Sciences, a Gates Foundation-funded startup, has developed a powder to help keep produce like avocados fresh for longer periods of time and reduce food waste. Avocados treated with Apeel Sciences’ spray, which launched this week in Costcos and Harps Food Stores in the Midwest, will have double the ripe time.

In the United States, 63 million tons of food, worth about $218 billion, are wasted annually. But Apeel Sciences is on a mission to reduce that figure while improving the quality and shelf-life of produce.

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The powder is derived from peels, seeds, and the pulp of fruits and vegetables, and it traps moisture inside produce while keeping oxygen out. The lightweight powder can be shipped to suppliers around the world who only need to mix it with water and before spraying or rinsing produce with the mixture. The spray is tasteless and safe for people with food allergies.

Chief executive James Rogers told the Chicago Tribune that consumers won’t be burdened with higher costs despite the treatment. ReFED, a nonprofit focused on reducing food waste, estimates that tackling food waste in America is an $18.2 billion opportunity, which is currently a cost carried most by consumers. This could mean the emergence of a profitable industry that tackles food waste.

"The way we're set up, it's more expensive for them not to use the product," Rogers said.

Read More: New Jersey Aims to Halve Food Waste by 2030 to Feed Hungry

On a global scale, high earnings from food waste reduction in the American market can help offset the lower returns on agriculture in developing countries. The lack of infrastructure and available technology means that 48% of food is lost each year, rotting and spoiling before arriving at markets or being consumed. This means lost income for those along the supply chain, from farmers to retailers.

Around the world, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year.

“Looking at the whole picture, one realizes that far too much food is wasted because of spoilage and pests,” Rogers said. “By significantly reducing food waste, we can save huge amounts of water and energy and make fresh produce available to more people.”

Creating solutions to reduce food waste helps to reduce hunger that over 800 million chronically undernourished people around the world experience daily.

As the global population increases to 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, reducing food waste will be critical to ensuring there is enough food to feed everyone.

Read More: Brilliant 8th Grader Wins International Contest for His Video on World Hunger

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