FRESCO

Non-invasive characterization of fruit and vegetables, using microwave sensing.

The challenge of food waste

Food waste is one of the biggest ethical and economic issues of contemporary days. It is estimated that over one third of all food produced globally for human consumption goes to waste, and “the value” of this wasted food is worth over 1 trillion Euros per year. For Europe alone, the waste of fruit and vegetable accounts for an economic loss of 200 – 260 € per capita per year. In a sense, food waste may be seen as a massive market inefficiency, the kind of which does not persist in other industries.

Food loss in the distribution chain

For fresh fruit and vegetables, big losses happen during the transport, handling, and distribution chain. A substantial part of these losses is avoidable, related to the quality control process, which is typically sample based, often destructive or limited in accuracy. Samples are typically cut to assess the internal conditions, and if major problems occur, entire batches may be rejected, which almost always implies the destruction of both healthy and damaged fruit.

The key role of automation

Reducing food loss inevitably passes through full automation of quality control procedures. The breakthrough would be measuring every single fruit, to discriminate between good and bad samples, and avoiding discarding healthy fruit. Nowadays, fruit sorting lines are equipped with many sensors, that mostly can characterize the external conditions of the fruit (skin condition, weight, ripeness). The big challenge, though, is to look inside the pulp, to understand the entire fruit condition (including diseases and flavor).

The FRESCO approach

The FRESCO approach uses microwave sensing and deep-learning to extract the quality information of fruit and vegetables. It is based on the dielectric measurement technology developed in TU Delft, allowing to look deep inside the fruit pulp, to foresee all the parameters of interest (ripening, hydration, sugar content, internal browning,  and more).

No waste from farmer to retail

FRESCO targets the reduction of fruit waste in the entire value chain. From farms to big distribution, from breeders to supermarkets, our approach can support the continuous quality control of fresh fruit and vegetables. To do that, we envision three implementations:

  • FRESCO Lab
  • FRESCO On-field
  • FRESCO Sorting

FRESCO Lab

A semi-automatic fruit measurement system, allowing a quick and controlled characterization of single fruits, ensuring perfect pressure and contact force for optimized accuracy. Designed for laboratories where accuracy prevails on throughput.

FRESCO On-field

A handheld device, for a quick and sample-based scan of fruit quality. Dedicated to measurement on-field (farm, field or greenhouses) as well as quick quality check in big distribution (as substitute to sample based cutting) and quality check in-stores.

FRESCO Sorting

The integrated use of the FRESCO approach in sorting lines will ultimately cut the avoidable losses during quality control, allowing to measure every single sample, and only discarding the defective ones. It can be used in combination with all the other existing sensors, to improve accuracy and throughput.

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