Objective quality control in the fresh chain

Is this mango really ready to eat and is it tasty? Does this avocado ripen after transport? Wageningen Food & Biobased Research gives breeders, growers, merchants and retailers detailed insight into the internal and external quality of products throughout the fresh chain.

The global market for fresh fruit and vegetables is very demanding. Customers and consumers want consistent high quality, low prices and safe food. In order to be successful, companies in the fruit supply chain need speedy, accurate and reliable control of product quality at every step in the chain. Checking quality indicators manually does not give information on the internal quality of products, such as sugar levels in mangos and core-rot in pears. This makes it difficult to make well-considered decisions about logistics. For example whether a batch is of a good-enough quality to sell, or whether a batch is suitable for an extended journey, perhaps to distant markets.

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Objective quality control

Food & Biobased Research is a world leader in objective quality control of fruits, vegetables and crops. We give breeders, growers, merchants and retailers detailed insight into the internal and external quality of products throughout the fresh chain. Combining many years of knowledge and expertise in post-harvest and sensor technologies, fresh produce and supply chains, we develop objective systems for fast and reliable quality assessment and quality prediction - tailor-made, non-invasive and mostly automated. Via this novel field of expertise - known as quality phenomics - we help companies reduce the time spent on quality management and obtain the best-possible price for their products while preventing costly recalls. Connecting fundamental and applied research we ensure that our solutions are innovative and creative, and strengthen the market position of chain partners.

Quality decay

We apply both classical approaches and objective, non-invasive optical and imaging technologies to measure baseline quality (a product’s condition when it begins its journey) and to monitor conditions and quality changes throughout the chain. Equipment used is diverse and includes 3-D product reconstruction to assess size, shape and colour of a product; NIR spectroscopy to gain insight into water and nutrient content and ripeness; and acoustic sensors to learn more about firmness and texture. The data gathered are used as input for quality-decay models, enabling accurate quality prediction and allowing chain-partners to maintain quality at increasingly higher levels.

Integrated robots

One of the latest innovations of Food & Biobased Research is measurement units with integrated robots; enhancing the quality control process and adding another level of objectivity. Imagine a robot programmed to pick up a mango, squeeze it with precisely the same force, every time, and then put it on an acoustic sensor. The clever part is how the robot’s software links objective sensor data with advanced quality-decay models. The models and the data allow prediction of product quality during and after storage and transport.