Apeel Sciences, a California-based company committed to giving produce a longer shelf life, is acquiring ImpactVision, adding imaging technology to its food waste-combating arsenal.
ImpactVision’s hyperspectral imaging technology will enable food suppliers to collect quantifiable data on produce quality, such as ripeness, freshness, and nutritional density. That data could be used to reduce post-harvest loss, optimize distribution, and lengthen shelf life, according to ImpactVision founder Abi Ramanan.
The technology aligns with Apeel’s mission of creating a more sustainable global food system, and is complementary to its first product. In 2017, the company debuted its plant-based coating technology, which acts as a second peel on produce. This outer layer controls the rate that oxygen and moisture can pass in and out – the leading causes of spoilage. It’s also an alternative to single-use plastic packaging.
The imaging technology will be integrated into Apeel’s packing houses and distribution centers across North America, South American, and Europe, snapping images as produce travels along conveyance lines. The company will then process those images through machine learning models to identify unique visual cues that relate to produce freshness, degree of maturity, and phytonutrient content. In time, they will use this information to create a database of fresh produce insights, giving producers, distributors, and consumers the necessary data to take advantage of each food’s extended shelf life.
Apeel has 30 supplier integrations, with plans to double that number by the end of the year.
According to Apeel CEO James Rogers, one third of produce is wasted, even as one in nine people go hungry. “More time for food could bring greater abundance,” he writes in a blog post.
Knowing the exact ripening window for each piece of fruit or vegetable will allow fresh food suppliers to optimize distribution of produce around the world, thereby reducing food waste and maximizing the quality that reaches consumers.
And consumers can more smartly shop and cook when they know how long their fruits and vegetables will last. “Produce can be ripe when you’re ready, based on information you received at purchase that will include formerly invisible produce characteristics, such as phytonutrient content,” Rogers writes.
Apeel is partnered with Houweling’s Group to sell plastic-free cucumbers in Walmarts around the United States, and last year, the company raised US$250 million in funding.
Photo by Megan Thomas on Unsplash