Reducing food waste from farm to fork

Squeezing avocados or mangoes to test their freshness is something many shoppers do without a moment’s thought. What people don’t know is that this is one of the ways that fruit gets damaged, making it unsaleable. As a result, supermarkets often have to throw away large quantities of fresh produce every day – a source of food waste.

One third of the food that the world produces is currently wasted. This leads to unnecessary stress on scarce resources, as well as lost revenue. In the US alone, food waste costs the country approximately $218bn a year.

There is an urgent call to action to halve food waste by 2030. The United Nations identifies food waste as one of the major sustainability challenges the world faces and it has set it as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (number 12.3). Major retailers and their supply chain partners have teamed up in a coalition called Champions 12.3, which is dedicated to inspiring action to achieve this goal. 


However, the logistics behind getting fruit and vegetables from the grower to the retailer at its optimum freshness is complex, especially as quality varies with seasons and changing environmental and weather conditions. As a result, the fresh produce industry is struggling to accurately predict shelf life and retailers are forced to throw away fruit and vegetables worth hundreds of millions of pounds into landfills. Not only is the environmental and social impact of food waste huge, but it also causes the industry to lose 10-40% of their profits.

OneThird, a food technology start-up incubated within one of Halma’s digital growth engines and backed by Ocean Insight, uses optical technology to look inside fresh produce in a non-destructive manner. Combining this information with images and other relevant environmental data and machine learning, an artificial intelligence algorithm is used to determine the internal quality of the produce and provide key information like remaining shelf life, taste and other quality parameters. The OneThird cloud-based data platform allows partners in the supply chain to quickly share this information so that immediate actions can be taken, thus reducing food waste in the process.

The passion and dedication of OneThird and Ocean Insight in developing this innovative technology to solve the problem of food waste, helps to grow a safer, cleaner, healthier future for everyone, every day.