At the third International Small Berry Industry Development Forum, held recently in Chengdu, China, TOMRA Food won the Award for Contribution to the Development of China’s Small Berry Industry. This accolade recognizes how TOMRA’s innovations in AI and machine learning for the food industry have empowered the small berry industry to improve efficiencies.
China now ranks first in the world for blueberry production, both by acreage and output, according to data released by the International Blueberry Organization (IBO). The industry’s success reflects growing consumer demand, but at the same time, consumers are getting fussier about product standards. However, it is impossible to achieve premium product quality or high yields with traditional manual sorting and grading methods. Improvements in product quality and efficiency depend on the adoption of automated sorting.
At the Forum to accept the award, Stanley Lim, Sales Manager of TOMRA Fresh Food Asia, part of the TOMRA Food family, commented: “To seize opportunities in the blueberry industry, it is vital to understand consumer demand and gain the advantages of state-of-the-art technical solutions. Fruit packhouses are currently progressing from fully manual grading to a mix of mechanical and manual grading and from sensor-based sorting technology to AI-driven sorting. TOMRA Food’s LUCAi™ software and hardware package uses artificial intelligence to accurately classify and grade fruit. This uses a huge database, and draws on TOMRA’s decades of experience in blueberry cultivation to detect hard-to-find product defects such as dehydration, bruising, and early anthracnose.”
Customer-defined quality enabled by AI
Stanley Lim delivered a speech at the Forum titled ‘Development and Innovation of Global Blueberry Post-Harvest Processing Solutions’. This showed the audience an integrated blueberry solution, from automatic feeding, sorting and grading, to filling, packaging, and product traceability.
Lim explained how targeted solutions can address difficulties encountered by blueberry producers. For example, because domestic consumers in China prefer blueberries with a white bloom, TOMRA has developed devices for gentler transition and with an anti-bruise design, separating the blueberries one by one and transporting them evenly to the roller conveyor. In addition to protecting the bloom, the blueberries are also inspected through 360 degrees for color, size, firmness, scarring, dehydration, and early anthracnose.