Apeel’s method creates a sort of second skin that delays spoiling

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Avocados can be a struggle. They cost too much, they injure us, and worrying about whether an avocado is still ripe is a palpable source of dread for many. Thankfully, one startup with a keen understanding of the culinary zeitgeist has devised an innovative way to quell some of our collective avocado anxiety while potentially helping the planet.

Food tech startup Apeel Sciences say they’ve devised a method that could significantly extend the shelf life of your average avocado. Their process involves spraying an invisible, layer of film made from the same kind of fats that make up the peels and skins that preserve other fruits, forming a sort of protective coating. According to the company’s website, this FDA-compliant method “naturally reinforces the plant's own peel and slows the rate of water loss and oxidation—the primary causes of spoilage.”

So far, Apeel says it’s been able to quadruple the shelf life of avocados in a controlled, laboratory setting and twice as long on store shelves. That significantly lengthens the window of time in which that avocado sitting on your counter or in your fridge can be used to top some toast.

The potential to prolong the shelf stability of the avocado, which sometimes flies halfway around the world to reach consumers, clearly presents a lucrative opportunity for grocers. Costco outlets in the midwest have started to stock Del Rey Avocado Company produce treated with Apeel’s process, and the startup hopes to be stocking the discount retailer’s locations across the country within the next year.

“Already, we’re able to bring avocados to places that didn’t have access to top-quality before, or that often ran out,” Apeel CEO James Rogers told The Washington Post. “It’s so rewarding to me personally to bring this fruit to places that wouldn’t normally have that access.”

Beyond business interests, Apeel’s method could be a boon for sustainable produce around the globe. Food waste organization ReFED believes it could cut down on some of the 63 million tons of food Americans waste each year. A pilot project sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation will test Apeel’s methods in Eastern Kenya, where lack of refrigeration along the supply chain means mangoes and bananas spoil before they can be sold.

Apeel is still waiting on approval for that project from Kenya, but there’s no denying that something that might allow the world to move and sell produce more sustainably is worth trying out. And if it means you have more time to plan your perfect avocado proposal, all the better.