( Courtesy Apeel Sciences )

Santa Barbara,Calif.-based Apeel Sciences has announced $250 million in new financing, and endorsements from Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry.

The financial boost brings the company’s valuation to more than $1 billion.

It will enable the company, which markets a post-harvest shelf-life extending technology for fresh produce, to continue tackling food waste on the global level, according to a news release.

GIC led investors on the round of funding, with Viking Global Investors, Up front Ventures, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group also participating. Celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry joined the effort as minority, non-participatory investors to support Apeel’s mission, according to the release.

“I hate to see food wasted, when there are so many people in the world who are going without,” Winfrey said in the release. “Apeel can extend the life of fresh produce, which is critical to our food supply and our planet too.”

In 2020, Apeel is on track to save 20 million pieces of fruit from going to waste at retail stores and extending the shelf life of produce in consumers’ homes, according to company officials.

In April, Starr Ranch Growers, Wenatchee, Wash., said it will be using Apeel Sciences’ treatment for organic apples. In January, German retail organization EDEKA Group said it is featuring citrus treated with Apeel Science’s shelf-life extender in select stores, with treated oranges and clementines anticipated by the end of the year. In September, Kroger said it was expanding a pilot with Apeel avocados to all stores.

Apeel Sciences offers a plant-derived solution applied to fresh produce after harvest that slows water loss and oxidation. The company says the technology can double to triple the shelf life of many produce items without the need for refrigeration. 

On average, the company said U.S. retailers that use Apeel have experienced a 50% reduction in shrink, a 5-10% growth in dollar sales, and an incremental 10% growth in dollar sales when sold in conjunction with in-store marketing campaigns. Apeel can help safeguard from COVID-19 related losses on produce items, according to the release, by increasing flexibility for suppliers and retailers. 

Apeel’s new funding will support the company’s initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central and South America.

“We are proud to team up with GIC to help create a better future with less waste,” Apeel Sciences CEO James Rogers said in the release. “Food waste is an invisible tax imposed on everyone that participates in the food system.

“Together, we’re putting time back on the industry’s side to help deal with the food waste crisis and the challenges it poses to food businesses.”

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EDEKA and Apeel turn focus to citrus