PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Could brown bananas be a thing of the past?
A California startup company says it has a product that can significantly extend the life of fruits and vegetables.
On a hillside farm near Santa Barbara, it’s not just the views that grab your attention, but the rare produce on the trees – named caviar limes.
“Once you pick it, there’s a timer going off,” says Jay Ruskey of Goodland Organics.
Caviar limes are prized by restaurants and bars because of their acidity and texture, but they only last a week to ten days after being picked, making shipping and distribution difficult.
That’s where Apeel Sciences CEO James Rogers comes in.
“We use food to preserve food,” he says.
They start with organic material like frozen grape skins.
They extract certain food molecules and mix them up in different combinations. The powder, called Edipeel, is mixed with water and sprayed on fresh produce.
“When it dries, it leaves behind the inperceptively thin barrier of plant material on the outside of the produce,” Rogers explains. “That thin barrier slows down the rate that water gets out of the produce and it slows down the rate that oxygen gets in, and by doing that we can naturally preserve the life of fresh produce. We can get extensions anywhere from twice the shelf life of a piece of produce, to five times the shelf life of a piece of produce.”
This time-lapse room is where they study the results. By day 5 the untreated strawberries on top rot — but the treated ones on the bottom are still good to eat.
It’s FDA approved, and the thin layer it leaves behind is edible and tasteless. It would replace the wax that is often used on grocery store produce.
For farmers like Jay Ruskey, Apeel is buying him valuable time.
“We’ve been able to do two or three times the shelf life is what we’ve seen. I’m super happy to see the results,” Ruskey said.
Apeel has raised $40 million from investors. Right now, they work with several growers and are in talks with large produce brands.