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World Bank Group invests in a start-up tackling the $2.5 trillion food waste problem


Apeel, a food science start-up backed by Oprah and Katy Perry, is launching a new initiative to help the world’s smallest-scale farms waste less and get more of their crops to market.


The company, which makes natural coatings that extend the shelf-life of supermarket staples like avocados and lemons, has raised $30 million in new funding from investors to help with the new effort as well as its expansion to more grocery stores around the world and introducing a wider variety of crop coatings.


Among those new investors is the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group, which is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries. This year alone, IFC has invested $22 billion in private companies like Apeel, and their buy-in adds to a roster of heavy-hitting investors for the agritech company, including Andreessen Horowitz, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.


In conjunction with the IFC, Apeel’s new programs for smallholder farmers will lead to the establishment of supply chains in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia. Apeel’s technology will also be used to improve domestic supply chains, reducing food loss without the use of refrigeration, which will allow farmers, retailers and consumers within developing countries access to new market opportunities previously out of reach without cold infrastructure or means for rapid transport.


“Innovative technologies can change the course of development in emerging markets and save livelihoods, economies, and, in this case, food,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, interim managing director, executive vice president, and chief operating officer of IFC. “We are excited to partner with Apeel to invest in a game-changing technology that can limit food waste by half, enhance sustainability, and mitigate climate change.”


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