Ever spent an egregious amount of time sorting through the entire bin of avocados at the grocery store to pick the perfectly ripe ones? Same. The good news is that we might not have to do this tedious task for much longer.
Yes, you heard that right: New technology is rolling out that can instantly scan your avocado to check its internal ripeness level. Soon, we’ll (hopefully) be saying goodbye to the days of avocado guessing games for good.
Apeel, a food system innovation company, recently announced that it’s introducing a new technology called Apeel RipeFinder, which can instantly and non-destructively determine the ripeness of avocados. Meaning no more squishing the delicate fruit, leaving behind marks and bruises, to tell if it’s ready to eat. Instead, the company is coupling advanced imaging technology with machine learning to determine the internal quality and ripeness of an avocado—which can help producers and grocery retailers with sorting, shipping, and merchandising decisions. Plus, this could mitigate food waste and provide consumers with consistently ripe and reliable avocados… a major win-win.
How does this avocado ripeness technology work?
According to Chuck Frazier, PhD, vice president of technology for Apeel, they’ve created imaging devices for produce sorters at packaging houses and distribution centers that can scan avocados and instantly group them into categories depending on their ripeness and dry matter.
“These devices use a sensor that measures how much light is reflected in the visible and near-infrared spectrum. Machine learning models are then tasked with converting this measured light spectrum into an accurate prediction of the avocado’s firmness and dry matter. These measurements can inform how long until the fruit is ready for consumption,” Frazier says.
This information is also helpful for sorting and routing the fruit to the best retailer based on inventory and shelf life to help prevent food waste. Unlike existing sorting techniques, this new scanner is more than five times faster and won’t damage the fruit whatsoever. This brand-new technology is currently being tested in grocery stores and other retail locations in North America.
Will consumers be able to use this technology, too?
Along with the data-intensive interface the scanners were built with to help support suppliers, Apeel has also designed a consumer-friendly experience with the hopes of integrating this technology in retail stores for customer use in the near future. Instead of displaying data, the scanner will share information like: “your avocado is ready for a salad” or “your avocado will be ready in about four days.” This will help spare consumers a whole lot of guessing work when it comes to picking the perfect avocados.
A registered dietitian explains all of the reasons to love avocados even more than we already do: