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Apeel Introduces ‘RipeFinder’ Solution To Reduce Food Waste

Apeel

Santa Barbara, California-based Apeel has announced its plan to introduce innovative new solutions to instantly and non-destructively determine the ripeness of avocados.

By coupling advanced imaging technology with machine learning, Apeel has increased visibility into internal quality and ripeness, allowing producers and grocery retailers to make more informed sorting, shipping and merchandising decisions, which has the potential to further mitigate food waste.

“Apeel started with a mission to prevent food waste across the supply chain with our plant-based protective coating,” said James Rogers, CEO.

“Our mission hasn’t changed, but we are evolving our offerings to further drive change in the food system. The expansion of our technology offerings will increase access to insights to create a smarter supply chain that maximizes the lifespan, quality and sustainability of fresh fruits and vegetables.”

The company announced several new efforts to deploy this technology, including:

  • Deploying an improved AI data model for imaging hardware in produce sorters at packing houses and distribution centers. Developed in collaboration with MAF Industries, these devices scan avocados and instantly group them into categories according to ripeness and dry matter. Once sorted, the fruit can be routed to the optimal retailer based on remaining shelf life to help prevent food waste. The new data model is global, enabling it to be implemented without time-consuming calibration.
  • Launching a produce quality scanner for distributors and grocery retailers that can be used to evaluate ripeness and dry matter of individual avocados. These devices are more than five times faster than existing methods, do not damage fruit like current methods and insights are captured in a cloud database to inform receiving, stocking and merchandising decisions.
  • Unveiling an avocado ripeness scanner for consumers that could allow grocery shoppers to know the ripeness window of produce like avocados before purchasing. The Apeel RipeFinder, which will be available for demo at the IFPA’s Global Produce & Floral Show in Orlando, Florida, also features a consumer-friendly user interface.

The advanced imaging system, developed from technology acquired by Apeel, works by shining a bright beam of light into the avocado, where it will penetrate several millimeters below the skin. A sensor measures how much light is reflected in the visible and near infrared spectrum. Machine learning models are tasked with converting this measured light spectrum into an accurate prediction of the avocado’s firmness and dry matter. The measurements can inform how long before the fruit is ready for consumption.

“All of our products are grounded in our view of nature as a database, and this data model is no different,” said Lou Perez, co-founder and SVP of new product introduction.

“The global avocado ripeness model was developed using machine learning by collecting data on tens of thousands of avocados throughout multiple seasons, blooms and countries of origin. This knowledge of produce behavior gives Apeel an advantage to create technologies that protect, detect and direct quality produce and improve food supply chain decisions.”

This advanced imaging technology is currently only available for avocados, but Apeel is working on models for other produce including limes, mangos and mandarins.

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