OPN Connect Newsletter 145 · December 12, 2019

Technology is Key to Ag's Future - Part II - Disruption in Produce Utilization

PART II – Disruption in Produce Utilization

Lisa Spicka, associate director of the Sustainable Food Trade Association, moderated the second half of the “Disruptors” seminar and focused her attention on food waste with each of her panelists offering technologies that help put more of what is grown on the table and less in the trashcan.

Lisa Spicka, Associate Director of the Sustainable Food Trade Association 

Campos Borquez

Spicka revealed that about 40 percent of the edible food that is grown in the world goes uneaten. Fruit and vegetable production is among the least efficient utilizers of the marketable fruit that is produced.

The “food waste” panel consisted of Aidan Mouat, CEO of Hazel Technologies; Fernando Alvear, head of sales for Full Harvest; and Jeff Orrey, founder and chief science officer of GeoVisual Analytics.

Aidan Mouat, CEO of Hazel Technologies

Organic Produce Summit 2020

Hazel Technologies has developed technology that reduces produce shrink by increasing shelf life. Mouat explained that the company has created a suite of biological products – box inserts and packaging, for example – that slow down the aging process of fruits and vegetables. He said the firm’s products can extend shelf life three times longer for many fresh fruits and vegetables. 

The company has developed broad application processes including creating packaging, such as clamshells with a soft bioactive pad, which adds to the shelf life of the product without requiring packers to change any of their systems. In addition, these pads follow the consumer home adding shelf life in the refrigerator.

Fernando Alvear, Head of Sales, Full Harvest

Alvear’s company is utilizing an on-line process to connect producers with manufacturers to reduce product loss by finding more homes for edible product. He said food loss is creating 8 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.  His firm wants to help growers achieve higher utilization of their crops by increasing the sales opportunities of both the number one grade item and its byproducts through an online platform.

Jeff Orrey, founder and chief science officer of GeoVisual Analytics

Ocean Mist

Orrey discussed his company’s use of imagery to improve harvesting efficiency. By taking high-tech, fly-over photos of a field, the company can digitalize the data and more precisely determine the optimum harvest date.  Currently, he said supervisors and foreman walk the field and guess as to the best harvest date. GeoVisual has developed software that can accurately predict when a field reaches that sweet point that maximizes production.  For example, an analysis of photos can predict the precise day that a lettuce field will maximize its output of 24-size heads. Armed with this information, the grower can set his harvest schedule to utilize the highest percentage of his production. As such, the company believes its system can optimize harvest and reduce waste.

Ag tech industry leaders inspired OGS attendees to think about the future and innovation

“We are using science and technology to make the industry more efficient,” he said, adding that the company’s philosophy is that “what get measured, gets done.” 




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