Early in 2021 Dole concluded a pilot project with Clarifruit as part of its promise to achieve zero food loss by 2025. Dole was also setting up the Sunshine for all (SFA) fund in February 2021, the USD 2 million annual fund which seeks to partner with young companies and start-ups to accelerate Dole’s adoption of innovation and technology and is open to applications from agri-tech start-ups around the world that will help Dole deliver on the Dole Promise.
Clarifruit has developed a next-gen quality control (QC) platform for fruits and vegetables. The AI-powered QC software platform uses advanced computer-vision technology to automate fresh produce quality inspection and evaluation while analysing factors such as size, colour, stem colour or any visible defects. The platform will also digitise and standardise the management of quality control process, giving the company accurate, high-quality real-time data, as well as actionable insights to optimize business decisions.
The Clarifruit app is currently used at Dole’s fresh pineapple packing plants for pre-shipment inspection, as well as at the local markets for inspection upon arrival.
Elad Mardix, CEO and Co-founder of Clarifruit, said that the software platform will automate the way in which quality control is performed across the entire fresh produce supply chain. “The platform analyses the quality of produce automatically, it is faster and more efficient than a human-driven inspection, but most importantly it is objective. It doesn’t matter who the operator is, it will always pass the same grade of fruit. It allows customers to dynamically manage their QC and govern the process in real-time. It delivers data driven insights so customers such as Dole can collect all produce-related data via the platform and optimize the matching of supply quality to customer specs.”
“By taking a photo, the Clarifruit’s mobile app assess automatically the external attributes of the fruit, such as size and colour. Companies also need information on the internal quality of the fruit; for this, existing industry devices can still be used and the data transferred wirelessly to the platform via the mobile phone, or it can also be entered manually if required. The system is cloud based so companies like Dole can access the information on platform from anywhere in the world. The biggest problem in the supply chain is quality mismatch. Clarifruit can optimise the information flow, establish objective and consistent inspections on both sides of a transaction, thus minimising this quality mis-match and get the right quality of product to the right customer.
“At the moment our computer-vision platform is already supporting 17 different produce categories. All produce categories have very different attributes and we hope to be able to collect them all. We expect to double the number of produce categories supported by our platform in the next 12 months.
“We believe the industry needs to go through a standardisation across the supply chain and we are focused on partnering with the industry’s leading fresh produce retailers, wholesalers and marketing companies.”
“We wanted to identify the best ways to leverage technology into quality. As in any company profitability is important, but with the pilot we wanted to up-skill our workforce and use technology that would help us to do the job,” explains Barbara Guerpillon, Head of Dole Ventures, Dole.
"Minimising quality mismatch means lower rejection rates from our distributors, which in turn means lesser product loss and higher revenue. At the same time, we are preventing fruit loss on the retailer’s end as they’re not throwing away rejected fruits.
"The pilot has not only helped us move closer to the Dole Promise of zero fruit loss by 2025 but has also provided our employees with a chance to upskill and use technology for more efficiency.
“This project contributes to reducing food waste, but there are many areas that we need to be looking at in the industry. We are also looking at projects such as a bio-gas plant and using the pineapple leaf waste to make vegan leather.
“Dole is one of the world’s largest growers of tropical fruit our main products are pineapples, bananas, papayas and avocados. We can see the potential to scale this technology across multiple products, but we will take it one step at a time to ensure we deliver results.
“Dole has made a very clear promise and we need tech partners to help with that. There are so many more areas within the industry where we can positively contribute to people, planet, and prosperity. That is why we created the SFA Fund to support many more tech entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas that will change the agricultural landscape.”
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