The Van Trump Report

New Innnovation Called “RipeFinder” Scans Avocado’s in Grocery Produce Aisles

Apeel Sciences is best known in the food space for its edible coatings used to keep fruits and vegetables fresher for longer. The company just announced a new innovation that can determine the ripeness of an avocado. The scanner, called “RipeFinder,” is designed to be placed in grocery stores, allowing shoppers to know the “ripeness window” of the fruit before purchasing. They are also optimizing the technology so it can be utilized along various stages of the supply chain.

Apeel unveiled its RipeFinder at the International Fresh Produce Association’s Global Produce & Floral Show in late October. The RipeFinder features a consumer-friendly user interface that displays ripeness information to consumers via easy-to-understand messages like “your avocado is ready for a salad” or “your avocado will be ready in about four days.”

Current devices used to test avocado ripeness use a needle to punch through the outside skin and measure the tenderness. By contrast, Apeel’s technology doesn’t penetrate the fruit at all. Instead, the system uses advanced imaging technology that works by shining a bright beam of light into the avocado that can penetrate several millimeters below the skin. A sensor measures how much light is reflected in the visible and near-infrared spectrum.

Apeel then uses machine learning models to convert the measured light spectrum into an accurate prediction of the avocado’s firmness and dry matter. These measurements are then used to inform the ripeness window of the fruit. The ripeness model was developed by collecting data on tens of thousands of avocados throughout multiple seasons, blooms, and countries of origin, according to  Lou Perez, co-founder and senior vice president of new product introduction at Apeel  
Apeel is also introducing similar solutions at the commercial level. Apeel has teamed up with MAF Industries to test a new AI model that they say will result in better sorting of avocados, allowing the produce to be routed to the best possible retailers based on their remaining shelf life. “The data will determine whether a piece of fruit can be stored, whether it can be delivered through the supply chain at a slower pace, or whether it needs to be on shelves tomorrow,” explains Simon Hunt, chief operating office of MAF Industries.    

For distributors and grocery retailers, Apeel has launched a produce quality scanner that can be used to evaluate ripeness of individual avocados. The company claims the devices are more than five times faster than existing methods, do not damage fruit, and insights are automatically captured in a cloud database to inform receiving, stocking, and merchandising decisions. The scanner is currently being tested at retail locations in North America and Europe.

Apeel said the advanced imaging technology is currently only available for avocados but the company is working on models for other produce including limes, mangos, and mandarins. (Sources: Fruitnet, TheSpoon)

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