Fresco could well be the solution for food waste in the fruit sector. "This inspection sensor uses a penetrative detection technique that doesn’t damage the fruit,” explains Luca Galatro of Vertigo Tech, the Dutch company behind Fresco. "Each piece of fruit’s quality can be determined. Too often, we see entire boxes of fruit being thrown away if, when checked, one piece is found to be defective. With this technology, you can quickly, easily, and accurately scan the entire batch’s quality."
The sensor uses electromagnetic microwaves to ‘look’ deep into the fruit. “Here, too, Fresco is unique. It’s the only sensor that uses this technique to penetrate the fruit so deeply. So, it gets the best results. Fresco can define quality parameters like ripeness, sweetness, internal defects, and shelf life. All that, in less than a second."
Raffaele Romano(left) and Luca Gallatro (right)
“Inspectors can, thus, easily check the fruit’s condition. But ultimately, you could use it throughout the chain. If you can track and ensure quality from grower to trader and eventually retailer, you maintain control throughout the chain. And as little food as possible is thrown away unnecessarily," says Luca. He and Vertigo Tech co-founder Raffaele Romano speak of an eight percent reduction in food waste. "About ten percent of all fruit never makes it to stores. That, while three-quarters of this fruit is of good quality."
These two electrical engineers met at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) while Luca was doing his Ph.D. "That’s where, in 2017, Vertigo was born. It’s a TU Delft spin-off. We were doing a project and met exotic fruit importers. They all encounter the same problem. There’s much ground to be gained in the area of inspection. So, we decided to find a solution."
Photo: Fred Leeflang
The smaller hand-held version should be on the market in the first half of 2022. "We want to introduce a version for sorting lines too. That larger version should be ready by 2024. You should be able to use that to check five pieces of fruit per second. We want to get these operational soon,” Luca continues.
“That is thanks to cooperation with two other companies, which focus on sorting and packing fruit. You can use these systems for various types of fruit. But, it will be most useful for those fruits that need to be transported and stored for a long time."
These ambitious entrepreneurs want to eventually see the Fresco being used for other products such as milk and eggs too. "However, we’ll be focusing entirely on fruit for the next five years. The step won’t be huge at the end. But, there is a world to be won in fruit first,” Luca concludes.