Fresh produce preservation specialist Apeel has made its first acquisition – ImpactVision – a provider of hyperspectral imaging technology that enables suppliers to see inside and understand the interior quality of fruits and vegetables. The technology is to be integrated into Apeel’s existing application systems at supplier locations around the world – adding a new layer of insights to help fresh food suppliers and retailers further reduce food waste.
Hyperspectral imaging technology
The new imaging technology collects quantifiable data on the various stages of produce ripeness, freshness, nutritional density, and other indicators of quality. For Apeel this is a major step towards digitizing produce quality data and helps the company to reach a goal of democratising the information for the benefit its partners and the global food system as a whole.
“ImpactVision’s technology can predict internal quality of food products from hyperspectral images. When this ability to ‘see beyond the borders of human vision’ is combined with Apeel’s shelf-life extension technology, the potential to fundamentally transform produce supply chains to reduce post-harvest loss, optimize distribution and lengthen shelf-life is enormous,” said Abi Ramanan, Founder of ImpactVision.
Integration with existing application systems
Made from materials found in the skins, peels and seeds of all fruits and vegetables, Apeel claims that its existing plant-based protection doubles the shelf life of fresh produce. The protective extra “peel” slows water loss and oxidation that cause produce to go bad. It is applied via application systems throughout packing houses and distribution centres across North America, South America and Europe.
Apeel’s new imaging technology will be added to these application systems to collect data-rich images as produce travels along packing house conveyance lines. Acquired images will then be processed through machine learning models that can identify unique visual cues that relate to freshness, degree of maturity, phytonutrient content, and other aspects of fruit quality.
“Our journey began with Apeel’s plant-based protection – an invisible ‘peel’ that addresses the challenge of global food waste by bringing more time to fresh produce before it spoils. Now, we’re expanding our technology to bring to light the previously invisible characteristics of produce, including internal quality, phytonutrient content, and environmental impact,” said James Rogers, CEO of Apeel. “Using the insights enabled by Apeel’s imaging technology, our partners will effectively be able to ‘see’ inside of every fruit and vegetable, quantifying quality as never before, so that the distribution of fresh food can be optimized. For our partners, this will mean less waste and an immediate bottom-line improvement, and ultimately, the ability to one day differentiate produce by making freshness and nutritional content ‘visible’ to the consumer.”
With Apeel’s continued expansion into new produce categories and geographies, the company is poised to capture category-wide datasets across a previously fractured and data-poor landscape, which in turn will help shape new efficiencies and benefits that span across global fresh fruit and vegetable supply chains. Given that 40% of the food grown globally goes to waste, this more robust and holistic understanding of produce quality will allow fresh food suppliers to optimize distribution, thereby reducing food waste, and maximizing the quality that reaches consumers.
For example, suppliers can now know the exact ripening window for each piece of fruit to then sort and ship to geographical locations that will ensure retailers are getting the highest quality produce.
Today, Apeel has 30 supplier integrations on three continents with plans to double that number by the end of 2021. With its imaging technology and positioning in the fresh food supply chain, Apeel is on a path to developing the largest and most comprehensive database of objective fresh produce insights for the global food industry.