SANTA BARBARA, Calif.– Food system innovation company Apeel announced its plan to introduce innovative new solutions that will allow stakeholders across all stages in the fresh produce supply chain 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, now allowing producers and grocery retailers to make more informed sorting, shipping, and merchandising decisions, which has the potential to further mitigate food waste and help consumers enjoy consistently ripe and reliable avocados.
“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.”
Apeel’s technology has implications for the entire produce industry and has been optimized to increase value for partners at different stages of the supply chain, as well as for consumers. The company announced several new efforts to deploy this groundbreaking 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. This inline sorting technology is being tested in a commercial packing house in Europe.
- Launching a first-of-its-kind 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 5 times faster than existing methods, do not damage fruit like current methods, and insights are automatically captured in a cloud database to inform receiving, stocking, and merchandising decisions. They are currently being tested at retail locations in North America and Europe.
- Unveiling an avocado ripeness scanner for consumers that could allow grocery shoppers to know the exact ripeness window of produce like avocados before purchasing. The Apeel RipeFinder, which will be available for demo at the International Fresh Produce Association’s Global Produce & Floral Show in Orlando this week, also features a consumer-friendly user interface (i.e., instead of displaying data, it reveals information such as “Your avocado is ready for a salad” or “Your avocado will be ready in about 4 days”).
Ripeness is the leading factor influencing consumers’ avocado purchase and eating decisions, and these advancements can minimize frustration and guesswork of selling, buying, and enjoying avocados at peak ripeness. Prior to development of this technology, avocado ripeness was commonly tested using a penetrometer, a device that uses a needle to punch a hole in the fruit and measure the tenderness of samples. Dry matter, a proxy measurement of oil content, is an industry standard quality indicator, and is determined by a laborious and wasteful process that typically involves microwaving samples. These methods of testing are not only destructive and create food waste, but cannot be applied to a large-scale continuous operation, limiting the amount of available data used to make decisions.
The advanced imaging system, developed from technology acquired by Apeel in, 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 then 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, e.g., ready-to-eat now, in 2 days, or 4 days.
The avocado ripeness model developed by Apeel is the most in-depth model in the market today. “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 at Apeel. “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 deep knowledge of produce behavior, as well as our integrated position in the supply chain, gives Apeel a unique advantage to create technologies that protect, detect, and direct quality produce and ultimately improve food supply chain decisions.”
“This technology and data model will really improve supply chain efficiency,” said Simon Hunt, COO of MAF Industries. “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. When we have this clear picture, we can send the fruit to a different location on the pipeline and treat that fruit differently.”
This advanced imaging technology is currently only available for avocados, but Apeel is working on models for other produce including limes, mangos, and mandarins.
Apeel’s evolving technology stack is built on an unprecedented understanding of produce quality and shelf life. This was first developed through the creation of Apeel’s plant-based coating and has deepened as their imaging technology has allowed for a powerful way to “peek behind the peel” and collect data on ripeness, freshness, nutritional density, and other attributes. The announcement is the latest step in Apeel’s path toward developing the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of objective fresh produce insights. Apeel’s goal is to democratize this information and leverage it to help consumers better enjoy the produce they purchase–and waste less of it.
Visit Apeel at booth #1143 at the International Fresh Produce Association Global Produce & Floral Show in Orlando, October 27-29 to see this technology in use.
ABOUT APEEL SCIENCES
Apeel is on a mission to create a more sustainable global food system by working with nature to use the power of materials and data sciences. Apeel’s plant-based protection allows for longer-lasting produce by using materials already found in the skins, peels, and seeds of all fruits and vegetables. This protective extra “peel” slows the water loss and oxidation that causes produce to spoil, and it’s the only proven solution for maintaining freshness from farm to kitchen. Apeel’s plant-based protection is available for an ever-growing number of categories and markets, including organic and conventionally grown produce. Additionally, Apeel is integrating new tools that will allow the food system to do more with the extra time created by Apeel’s plant-based protection. Farmers can sell more of what they grow, retailers can sell more of what they source, and people can enjoy more of what they buy, creating a healthier planet and greater abundance for all. Apeel is Food Gone Good.
Apeel is a trademark/registered trademark of Apeel Technology, Inc. in the United States, the European Union, and other jurisdictions. To learn more, visit apeel.com.