Singapore state-owned investment company GIC led a $250 million financing round for the US-based Apeel Sciences, the developer of technology to extend the shelf-life of produce said in an announcement Tuesday.
The investment brings Apeel’s valuation to more than $1 billion, the statement said.
Other investors in the most recent round included Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group, while celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry also joined as minority, non-participatory investors, the statement said.
Previous investors in the company include Andreessen Horowitz, S2G Ventures, Powerplant Ventures, DBL Partners, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Department for International Development and The Rockefeller Foundation.
Apeel Sciences said its plant-derived solution adds an extra “peel” to the outside of fruit and vegetables, extending the shelf life without refrigeration by slowing water loss and oxidation.
Lost or wasted food generates around 37 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, according to the World Wildlife Federation. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated food wastage costs around $1 trillion every year, with an additional $700 billion of environmental costs and $900 billion of social costs.
“I hate to see food wasted, when there are so many people in the world who are going without,” Winfrey said in the statement. “Apeel can extend the life of fresh produce, which is critical to our food supply and our planet too.”
In addition to seeking business from the US and European produce suppliers and retailers, Apeel will use the funding for its initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America, which face greater food security and waste issues, the statement said.
Apeel said that the US retailers using its product see an average 50 per cent decline in shrinkage and a 5 per cent to 10 per cent increase in dollar sales.
The company was founded in 2012 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce post-harvest food loss.