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This company figured out how to preserve produce, combat world hunger

Blair Shiff

No one likes buying produce and it rotting on the countertop. James Rogers, CEO of Apeel Sciences, hated it too, so he founded a company to try to combat that issue.

Apeel Sciences is a California-based startup founded in 2012 that developed an odorless, tasteless, edible coating that can go on produce and delay it from spoiling. The coating is made from plant materials.

"Apeel is made from materials that are found in every bite of fruit," Rogers told FOX Business. "These materials are found in high quantities in the seeds, skins and pulps of fruits or vegetables. Using those materials, we created a formula that, when mixed with water, farmers and suppliers can apply to the surface of produce."

In some cases, the coating can double the shelf life of the items.

"This exceptionally thin extra 'peel' of edible plant material on the surface of the fruit naturally slows down water loss and oxidation -- the factors that cause spoilage," Rogers said.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave Rogers $100,000 to hire researchers that could help develop Apeel. It may be because of its possibility to combat world hunger.

Rogers is acutely aware of the widespread problem of food waste, whether in people's kitchens, in grocery stores or even on farms. In fact, it was why he formed Apeel in the first place.

"I just happened to listen to a podcast that was describing how much of the world is hungry as well as how much food we throw away every year, and it seemed so backward to me," Rogers said. "It was because of this podcast that I started thinking about possible solutions as to how we could potentially keep the spoilage that causes us to throw out so much food everywhere, and from a scientific perspective, what we could do to stop water evaporation that causes the perishability."

The problem of world hunger is multi-faceted, but that didn't stop him from trying to develop Apeel.

"The amount of food waste that happens at the consumer stage is still significant," Rogers said. "And this is the aspect of food waste we're focused on."

Another challenge Rogers encountered when researching the food waste epidemic was how little data there was tracking wasted food.

"Where and how food becomes waste is not well-tracked or well-measured," Rogers said.

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Rogers said understanding consumer preferences and behaviors is crucial in tracking how food gets wasted.

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