March 31, 2023

ZeroW: Systemic Innovation towards a Zero Food Waste Supply Change

Reducing food loss and waste (FLW) is an imperative need to achieve sustainable food systems, since it affects not only the economy but also the environment. For this reason, FLW reduction is contemplated within the Sustainable Development Goals (12, Responsible Consumption and Production) and the European Green Deal (From Farm to Fork). To support the fulfilment of the goals established in these initiatives, the European Union funds, among others, the ZeroW-Systemic Innovations Towards a Zero Food Waste Supply Chain project (Grant agreement no. 101036388) aimed at drastically reducing FLW (50% by 2030 and ≈0% by 2050). ZeroW project runs from 2022 to 2025, taking into consideration all actors in the food system, in a collaborative framework, through 9 Systemic Innovation Living Labs (SILLs) involving 46 stakeholders from 17 European countries.

The Andalusian Institute of Agricultural, Fisheries, Agrifood and Organic Production Research and Training (IFAPA) of the Regional Government of Andalusia is actively participating in SILL5 in close collaboration with Multiscan Technologies, Technological Corporation of Andalusia (CTA) and The Cana Group. This SILL is aimed at the development and application of innovative and non-destructive technologies that allow the early detection of defective fruit and vegetables (Ugly Food), preventing its loss at destination, thus allowing its use and therefore, significantly minimizing food loss associated with this stage. For that, different technologies based on VIS-NIR spectroscopy working with multispectral high power pulsed led lighting in the selected frequencies, artificial vision systems using high speed-resolution cameras to work at real processing speeds in industrial environments, portable mass spectrometry as well as machine learning techniques to integrate the information from the different sensors, are considered. Clearly, the combination of artificial intelligence and real-time data processing techniques will be the key factor for the development of the proposed non-destructive sensors. Data obtained throughout the project will be used for the development of predictions models able to estimate shelf-life and quality features of fruit and vegetables, initially Cherry tomatoes, such as, among others, date of harvest, variety of product, maturity, temperature, humidity, defects that affect shelf life such as pest damage, mechanical damage and micro-cracks.

Thus, SILL5 pursues the implementation of: (a) multi-sensor platform with capacity of analysing and processing around 300,000 fruit/hour and with the possibility of classification in three different outputs based on quality, shelf-life parameters and organic/inorganic origin and (b) data service platform to control input produce. Thus, hand in hand with science and technology, ZeroW project fights against FLW along the food chain.