An AI-based platform can check produce for signs of ripeness or rot, greatly reducing waste and improving margins
Spotted: As much as one-fifth of all fresh produce is lost due to poor handling and storage before it ever reaches the grocery store. Much of this occurs because the produce is only inspected from the outside, which does not necessarily indicate how ripe it is or whether there is any rot on the inside. This makes it difficult to predict how it will behave during the shipping or at the customer’s house. Now, Israeli startup Neolithics has developed an AI-based technology to inspect produce from the inside in order to predict when it will be ripe.
Neolithics uses hyperspectral cameras to inspect each item of produce from 360 degrees. The images are then analysed for signs ranging from bruising to internal chemical properties like sugar, starch and fibre content, and acidity. The system also looks for anomalies, like uneven liquid distribution, which can signal problems. The AI can also measure residual levels of chemicals and pesticides. Each scan is compared to a huge data set to determine which produce meets set standards for firmness, predicted shelf life or other factors.
Stores and farms can use the technology to judge which produce is closer to spoiling and needs to be sold first. In fact, Neolithics is already working with Israeli’s biggest retailer, which uses the system at its warehouse to help determine the best distribution schedule for many of its produce lines. The retailer claims it has been able to cut its quality control budget by more than 80 per cent.
Amir Adamov, the CEO of Neolithics explains that the system was only possible because the technology has advanced so far in very little time. He points out that even three years ago this type of data analysis would have been prohibitively expensive.
Reducing food waste is a huge issue, and Springwise has covered a number of innovations designed to improve the sustainability of food production and supply. New ideas include an online grocery store that sells only discounted surplus stock, and a platform that uses AI to helps restaurants and food companies manage food to reduce waste.
Written By: Lisa Magloff