Apeel is an edible coating that can help extend shelf life of fruit.

Everything you need to know about Apeel

The edible coating claims to double shelf life, but how does it work and is it safe?

Last month, Tesco announced the end of its trial of Apeel, an edible plant-based coating that claims to keep fruit fresh for twice as long.

The supermarket had kicked off a three-month roll out across 80 of its UK stores in 2022, applying the protection to an assortment of its citrus fruits to understand exactly what impact it might have on taste, texture and shelf life.

In April the supermarket confirmed the trial had come to an end and, though it’s remained tight-lipped on whether there are specific plans to use Apeel more widely, said “our learnings…will help us shape future plans.”

Crucially, Tesco isn’t the only grocer that’s been experimenting with the tech. Asda has rolled out the coating across mandarins, oranges and avocados in 150 of its stores, while its US owner Walmart relied on the innovation to launch ‘plastic-free’ cucumbers. Such is the appetite for the technology in fact that the California-based Apeel has been valued at more than $2 billion, according to Pitchbook.

So as Apeel-coated fruits and vegetables look set to become a familiar addition in supermarkets, here’s everything you need to know.

How does it work?

Apeel is an invisible coating made up of purified monoglycerides and diglycerides, edible fatty acids commonly found as natural compounds in the peels, seeds and pulp of fruits, vegetables and other plants. The company uses these food products, such as grape peel from a winery, and presses out an oil rich in the fat lipids, which it then turns into a colourless, odourless, and tasteless powder. Manufacturers simply need to add water and apply as a spray, a brush or as a dip. When applied on produce, this coating works to mimic the natural cuticle layer developed by many leaves, stems, fruits and flowers as a form of protection, the company says. Specifically, the ultra-thin protective coating locks oxygen and moisture inside, “dramatically” slowing the rate by which the produce spoils.

Is it effective?  

According to the company, the addition of this invisible layer can roughly double the shelf life of fresh produce. But its impact does vary depending on the specific product. Its own research shows that avocados can have an additional three days of peak ripeness with the coating added, for example, while it creates a 45 per cent reduction in ‘shrivel and decay’ after 28 days for apples, and 94 per cent less shrivelling of limes treated after the same period. Results have fared well once the technology has reached supermarket shelves too. A pilot project between Apeel and German grocery giant The Edeka Group in 2021 found that Apeel-treated avocados had a 50 per cent reduction in avocado spoilage and a 20 per cent increase in sales.

Is it safe?

A safety sheet claiming to flag concerns about consuming Apeel-treated produce sparked concerns last month but – as it turned out – it was a case of mistaken identity with the information relating to a chemical surface cleaner with the same name. The Apeel used on fresh produce is made of fatty acids found in foods we already eat. “Apeel uses these plant lipids because they have a long history of safe consumption,” says the company.

Much the same goes for its impact on the environment, with its plant-based formula lacking the risk of synthetic chemicals. As such, in the US, organic certifiers have deemed it safe to use on organic produce (in the UK it is not currently allowed under Soil Association regulations).

A spokesperson for the Soil Association said: “We understand Apeel contains E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids; this is not permitted under GB or EU organic regulation. So this would not be permitted for use on organic produce in Britain.”

Another factor to consider is that extending shelf life could potentially have a positive impact thanks to its reduction of food waste: Apeel claims that 44 million pieces of fruit have been saved from waste since it launched. Food waste is a major emitter of greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change.

Read more on how food waste is linked to climate change.

Does it have competition?

Though Apeel might be one of the most established edible coating manufacturers out there, this approach to extending shelf life has seen plenty of competition emerge in recent years. Sufresca is one company chasing at its heels. The Israeli agri-tech start-up has developed its own biodegradable coating made up of natural food ingredients that it says creates a breathable coating on fresh produce, partially blocking the exchange of gases that lead to decay. As the solution can be sold straight to processors and packaging houses as a liquid, it’s simple to integrate into supply chains, says the company, with hopes it can be rolled out to early adopters by in the coming months.  

This article was edited on 11 May to clarify the UK’s position on using Apeel on organic produce.

28 Comments

Leave a Reply

  1. Already supermarkets are removing Best Before dates from fruit and vegetable packing. This has been replaced with a code i.e E3, E4 E5 E6 etc according to which week the item was processed. This is for the benefit of the manufacturer and the supplier and not the consumer. It is claimed to prevent waste, and so the consumer now has a much reduced understanding and knowledge of how fresh the item is. This is of course not fundamentally to save waste, but to increase profit. Also a Bill has been passed which allows foodstuffs to be gene edited i.e genetically modified with no right of the consumer or neighbouring farmer for that matter to know where it has come from or where it is being grown. `Frankenstein` foods are now legally due to hit our supermarket shelves, or so it would appear. Soon we shall be bombarded with `super-silicon` coatings which are claimed to prolong shelf life. This is not a natural phenomenon and therefore not what nature intended. Again this has to be about profit – things generally are. The rise of `plastic` food is just around the corner, or so it would seem? Man cannot defy nature however hard he tries, because nature will fight back – and likely in a way that was not expected.

    271
  2. I wish they would stop messing with our food. This presumably is about having to reduce the frequency of deliveries and fuel consumption, I suppose, so that may be a good thing, but at what cost?

    221
    1. That definitely seems to be the consensus among many of our readers, it would also be interesting to see how nutritional value is affected by prolonging shelf life with Apeel.

      10
  3. Codes on produce so shops will know but not the public. It seems more and more is being done to hide stuff from people. I don’t want chemicals being added to my produce no matter how safe they say they are. As Guy said his farming life has been littered with chemical applications which manufacturers have said to be safe but later withdrawn over safety issues. They now tell us that intensive farming has had a bad effect on bird numbers. Anybody with any sense could tell you that chemicals which are poisonous to one creature are poisonous to all. Oh for a gov’t that did stuff for the benefit of people!!!!

    161
  4. Nature should not be tampered with, I wonder how this product is going to affect people with certain food allergies, if the coating is what they say it is. Anything with Bill Gates involved gives me huge concerns for human safety. Our family has been noticing a big change in the taste and texture of produce. We have started growing our own and purchase from an organic farmer I know that is true organic.

    177
    1. That’s interesting to hear, and yes many questions still to be answered on Apeel.

      0
  5. Yes I emailed for the actual contents, and was brushed off to their website.
    Anyhow, from the US FDA approval of G.R.A.S, as explained in the video below, (as it’s owned by B&MGates)
    From 17m20s (I hope it’s permitted!, my apologies if not) a renowned doctor/scientist bares all.
    https://rumble.com/v2lp49y-bioengineered-and-genetically-modified-food-poisons-in-food-and-apeel-coati.html
    It’s the only location so far, of getting a list of ingredients.
    I suspect it’s the new UK legislation slipped in, we’ve now become game to Bio Engineering.
    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2023/6/contents/enacted
    Also, again could be wrong, but the actual product they sell to businesses is called edipeel, found this:
    https://www.plasticsoupfoundation.org/en/solutions/edipeel/

    17
  6. What has been omitted from this discussion is the bodily process of these glycerides, the affect on the body, the solvents used and the residual substances left behind. This is what I have found out:
    1) monoglycerides and diglycerides form triglycerides in the body which is attributed to the hardening of the artery walls thus causing arteriosclerosis and pancreatitis
    2) the solvents used include ethyl acetate and heptane which affects the CNS, also causing headaches, nausea, drowsiness and possible permanent damage to CNS.
    3) Neutralising agents are added which are carcinogenic which include: Palladium( Toxic), Arsenic ( eyes, liver, skin issues), Lead (affects body systems), Cadmium (kidney, bone issues) and Mercury (brain)
    According to Apeels’s literature these chemical are not EXPECTED to go through the skin( so not tested it then?) but bear in mind the skin is the most nutritious part.

    149
    1. Hi, please could you share the sources on the neutralising agents/heavy metals? We are interested to learn more.

      14
    2. In this article on the Children’s Health Defense website – https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/gates-foundation-food-coating-apeel-edipeel/
      It says it does not wash off & can not be scrubbed off. One of the people commenting at the bottom of the article (in America) said “It’s already on potatoes. I tried to peel a russet potato last week and my peeler wouldn’t catch the skin and kept sliding over it. I also noticed that the apples I just purchased are not being eaten by the raccoons now which is absolutely bizarre since they love their apples. All the apples were left and not a single one was eaten. So now we must peel all our produce which degrades the nutritional value even further.
      Amongst many peoples comments, another was –
      “So, if the produce has been sprayed with pesticides, does this coating seal in the pesticide? And what compounds would be created by mixing them all together”?

      Much to think about – Gates as usual, telling us all is safe – while he fills his pockets – leave nature alone!

      33
  7. Interestingly, mono, do and triglycerides of fatty acids was the first ingredient I identified when I became allergic to polyethylene oxide (a petroleum based substance).

    It turns out that these “natural” substances are produced from natural oils and ethylene oxide, and can leave residues of EO and polyethylene oxide contamination. I presume that’s why they are banned in EU/UK organic (but approved under USA organic!).

    VERY glad of this, as organic is the only food I can eat now without throat swelling

    53
  8. My, biggest question is it locks the air out of the inside of the fruit or vegetable does it suffocate the minerals inside the vegetable and become just useless
    bi-products

    32
    1. An interesting question. Minerals wouldn’t necessarily be degraded by lack of air, but it would be very interesting to see studies on the nutritional density of products with it used on, we haven’t seen any information on that.

      8
  9. There are better ways to eliminate the oxygen reaction with fruits and vegetables than coating with a chemical. Check out GreenLifeTech (https://www.greenlifetech.com/). Oxygen is removed from air thereby creating an inert environment, all at atmospheric pressure. There are no chemicals. The process simply removes oxygen in an environmentally friendly manner. The oxygen is just placed back into the air.
    The concept of extending shelf life by eliminating oxygen has been known for decades, and well documented by the USDA and many private entities for decades. GreenLifeTech’s patent pending technology just does it in a cost effective manner. Commercial application of using inert environments is being used extensively.
    So everyone has a choice – a safe environmentally implementation or chemical coatings.

    15
  10. There is a large group of people that are allergic or intolerant to Rapeseed Oil and all the derivatives – which include mono and diglycerides esters of fatty acids etc. this inclusion on fresh produce is further (or potentially) reducing the ability for us safely. The FSA risk assessments of these products are not thorough, and people are not aware that it is the rapeseed that is causing them their problems. Much better quality research and full risk assessments need to be undertaken.

    12
  11. Good high level overview of the new coating. How else do people expect to move produce 1/2 way around the world and prolong freshness and minimize waste. It saddens me that people are so quick to jump to conclusions about “Franken-foods”, when clearly science is providing solutions to world problems. We live in a an amazing time period of food abundance and variety, where anyone can have anything from anywhere on the planet any day of the year. Apeel is brilliant food science and should be embraced. Of course, more work is needed to demonstrate safety when consumed, but should 100% be adopted for produce where the surface is not consumed (e.g., avocados, citrus, etc.). I, for one, am optimistic. To date, there have been NO reports of consumer having physiological reaction to Apeel coatings.

    3
  12. Good info in these comments. Bill and Melinda gates–“anything with their name on it, I avoid.” I totally agree. I think God provides us this green earth to cherish it and keep it real, not load it with chemicals, and make false statements about them, in order to become fabulously wealthy. Apeel is such a scam but at least we’re finding out how bad they can rape us, steal from us and kill us. It’s the plan, folks. They say it themselves. The earth isn’t able to sustain half of us, they say. So this is one of their solutions. I wonder if this stuff has mRNA added? I would not doubt it for a second.

    19
  13. It would be great to find out and publish all the vegetable stickers that really mean “treated with Apeel”. You know they’re not going to all say, “Apeel”. So far, I’ve only found that Costco and Kroger supermarkets buy apeel, to what extent I do not know. There is a sticker out there that looks suspiciously like an apeel sticker, green with little leaves, even the name is similar to apeel. I will make a note of it and post when I can.

    8
  14. My understanding is that Apeel also known as Edipeel is made using solvents Ethyl acetate and Heptane (source: US government website. http://www.fda.gov/media/135999/download). According to the FDA site the following heavy metals are present: Palladium, Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium and Mercury. Also, it contains Soap (as sodium oleate). The physical appearance is described as “Varies in consistency from yellow liquids through white- to pale yellow-colored plastics to hard, ivorycolored or white to pale yellow solids (flakes,
    powders or small beads). I won’t be buying anything that has this on any food.

    8
  15. Please leave our food alone. I cannot eat fruit or vegetables with apeel. It is unfair that you don’t label the food, I only eat organically and I do not want plant oils of any kind on my food. I will stop purchasing these products if they are not labeled. This is a terrible mistake.

    2
  16. I’m not surprised one bit that our dear leaders in the United States deemed it fine for our organic food. There is no one here to protect our interests, just a bunch of money loving psychopaths.

    Come on, this stuff looks like it is turning fruit to plastic! WTF!?

    1
  17. Has any studies been performed on the ability of the fruit seeds to be germinated and start a new plant? On the surface this sounds OK as it extends shelf life but if the unintended consequences are that any fruit you purchase in the future is unable to be propagated that would be a bad thing! Just looking for insight beyond the obvious.

    0

In case you missed it

Receive the Digital Digest

Food, Farming, Fairness, every Friday.

Learn more

About us

Find out more about Wicked Leeks and our publisher, organic veg box company Riverford.

Learn more