The Kroger Co. announced on September 18th that it’s expanding its partnership with Apeel Science, a plant-based technology company dedicated to combating food waste, by selling its longer lasting produce in stores across the country. 

Last year Kroger announced a pilot program with Apeel to sell its avocados in 109 supermarkets across the midwest. This announcement expanded the program nationwide and adds limes and asparagus to the produce offerings. 

Apeel uses a plant-based technology that provides an extra layer of protection to combat oxidation and water loss within the food, which is the primary cause of spoilage. Apeel claims that adding this layer of protection, it is able to double or triple the shelf life of produce sold in stores. 

Kroger has made strides in reducing food waste in its stores and spearheading efforts among supermarkets to combat waste on a global scale. Currently 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is thrown away. With their Zero Hunger/Zero Waste social impact campaign, Kroger is finding ways to carve into that number, promising a goal of zero waste in their stores by 2025.

“Apeel’s innovative food-based solution has proven to extend the life of perishable produce, reducing food waste in transport, in our retail stores and in our customers’ homes,” said Frank Romero, Kroger’s vice president of produce, in a statement.

In a recent study on supermarket efforts on food waste, Kroger was ranked above all other supermarket competitors  like Walmart, Whole Foods and Aldi. Kroger, Walmart, and Ahold Dehaize USA are the only supermarkets to publically pledge zero waste by 2025. 

“The company has demonstrated clear commitment to food waste initiatives as exemplified by their innovative use of technologies to reduce food waste prevention, their transparency in tracking food waste and reporting the data, and their very clear commitment to zero food waste,” said Dr. Jennifer Molidor, author of the study.

In its 2019 environmental, social, and governance report the company claims to have achieved a 13% improvement in supermarket food waste diverted from landfills, moving from 27% diversion in 2017 to 40% diversion in 2018. Kroger is hoping that by selling longer lasting produce from Apeel, that number can increase further. 

Kroger claims that its partnership with Apeel will help to reduce the unnecessary disposal of millions of avocados and as well as contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and water usage. 

The announcement appeared to have little effect on the trading day. Share prices fell 5.2% on the day to $25.22, following a downward trend for the week.