It’s the biggest avocado news since the New York Times added peas to guacamole: Costco and Harps Food Stores will sell specially coated long-lasting avocados from agriculture-focused startup Apeel Sciences.
According to a blog post, these avocados have never been commercially available until now, and they can only be picked up at select Midwest Costco and Harps Food Stores for now. For the last six years, the company has worked to produce avocados that don’t brown quickly, and the technology has captured the attention of investors like Bill Gates.
As the name implies, Apeel is a coating derived from plant peels, seeds and pulp—specifically the lipids and glycerolipids in them. The avocados are rinsed with Apeel, and this extra coating helps keep moisture in and oxygen out. In turn, Apeel says avocados stay fresh two to three times longer.
“Apeel adds a little extra ‘peel’ to the surface of fresh produce that naturally reinforces the plant’s own peel and slows the rate of water loss and oxidation—the primary causes of spoilage,” Apeel says on its website.
This, of course, gives consumers more time to eat them, but Apeel said it also promotes more sustainable growing practices. The Goleta, California-based company said that it’s “the only postharvest solution that creates an optimal microclimate inside of every piece of produce,” leading to “extended shelf life and transportability” without preservatives, refrigeration or controlled atmosphere of any kind.
Apeel said it has proven effective on more than two dozen types of fruits and vegetables, but it started with avocados because everyone loves them, spoilage is a major challenge and quality can vary greatly based on U.S. geography.
“You never really know what you’re getting until you cut into your avocado at home—and it’s so frustrating to have to throw away a bad avocado,” Apeel said in the post.
In addition to The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Apeel investors include Andreessen Horowitz, DBL Partners, Upfront Ventures, S2G Ventures, Powerplant Ventures and The Rockefeller Foundation.
According to CrunchBase, it has raised $40 million to date, including $33 million in a 2016 Series B round.
Maybe with all the money they’re going to save, millennials will finally be able to buy houses.