A team of UK scientists are working to invent a type of portable sniffing device that can detect whether avocados are rotten without breaking the skin and damaging the fruit.
This is because the fruit is prone to developing various disorders in the flesh, such as fungal decay, grey pulp and vascular browning. The main problem with these internal disorders is that it is not possible to detect them from the outside – which leads to many unhappy consumers.
The likelihood of various flesh disorders occurring in avocados is estimated to be as high as 15-20%, or every 1 in 5 fruit, which equals to around £40 million worth of poor quality fruit being thrown away every year in the UK alone – and around £1.5 billion globally.
Now a multi-disciplinary research team is working on a high performance machine, that will be able to detect these disorders in avocado using its aroma. The team has identified a range of chemical markers that indicate whether the fruit is of poor quality. Ultimately, based on the heritage of developing instruments for space missions, the aim is to develop affordable, portable devices that can identify these markers and can be used by anyone at all stages in the value-chain.
Hortnews.com quoted the lead scientist, dr Marcin Glowacz of the Institute/University of Greenwich, as saying: “If these poor quality fruit could be identified prior to reaching the consumer they could be used for other purposes, for example in new product development and so reduce any negative environmental impact, rather than entering the market. Removing them from the supply chain before they reach the consumer would also have a positive impact on society, i.e. changing consumer behaviour so that people do not have to worry so much about the internal quality of the fruit, especially considering its premium price.”
Dr Glowacz is developing this new sniffing technology by working with space instrumentation expert Dr Geraint Morgan and colleagues Dr Simona Nicoara and Dr Sonia Garcia-Alcega.