Using edible produce protection technology from U.S.-based Apeel, UK supermarket chain Asda reduced its citrus waste by 36% in select stores and avocado waste by 10% during the course of a year.
The trial, which was done in 150 Asda locations, shows the tremendous potential of using the company’s “plant-based” peels to help retailers achieve net carbon zero goals. Many supermarkets have announced lofty sustainability plans – Asda wants to cut food waste overall by 20% in the next two years, for example – and Apeel could help all of them get there.
“As we roll forward with Apeel, I wouldn’t want the product to be exclusive to us,” said Mike Snell, Managing Director IPL for Asda. “They should be making it with everybody. If the technology’s that good, and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t, then it could be applied on everything. And then you’d save, I mean, billions of tons of plastic.”
The Apeel technology uses natural skins, peels and seeds to create a thin barrier that helps to slow oxidation and loss of water in produce. The protection lasts from farm to table and can encompass both conventional fruits and vegetables and organics.
The key is having that barrier in the final two steps – after retailers display produce at its best and after shoppers take it home and let it sit before consuming. Unfortunately, according to a study referenced by Apeel and Asda done by climate-wary organisation WRAP, UK families toss £60 of food and drink every month, and food waste accounts for nearly 10% of climate emissions yearly. If fruits and veg last longer, however, as shown with Apeel-protected items, that waste can be reduced greatly, sparing the environment and saving consumers money.
“In an environment where inflation is a huge problem, more bang for your buck is important,” said Camille Hanna, Regional Director of Sales for Apeel. “ASDA is able to give their consumers more time with the fruits and vegetables that they buy, so they’re wasting less.”
Shoppers are noticing the effort. In a recent survey, 75% said because of the use of Apeel they “believe Asda cares about reducing food waste. More than half agree that Apeel “makes (them) believe Asda is a champion for sustainability.” And in some cases it led to more purchases. Oranges saw a 6% sales increase in locations where they had the Apeel coating. The partnership between Asda and Apeel also was recognized as a finalist for Most Sustainable Retailer Initiative of the Year during the 2022 Retail Industry Awards.
In addition to trialling Apeel, Asda has eliminated the use of best-before dates on 250 fruits and vegetables to encourage shoppers to not just pass on produce that is still good.
“ASDA has a commitment to be net zero by 2040. Through Apeel and other food waste reducing initiatives, that can really help in terms of our carbon footprint,” said Karen Todd Senior Manager Sustainability Team ASDA.