Apeel officially announced today is has acquired machine learning company ImpactVision for an undisclosed amount. The plan is to integrate ImpactVision’s hyperspectral imaging technology into Apeel’s applications systems at produce packing houses and distribution centers in North America, South America, and Europe. This is Apeel’s first major acquisition, according to a press release sent to The Spoon. To date, ImpactVision has raised $2.8 million.
Apeel’s existing application systems involve coating different types of produce with what the company calls its “shelf-life extension technology” — an edible, plant-based coating that gets applied to produce after harvest. The coatings extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by keeping moisture trapped inside the produce and oxygen out. In doing so, the rate of decay significantly slows.
With the ImpactVision acquisition, Apeel will be able to add further analysis of the produce to its operations. ImpactVision’s tech collects and processes hyperspectral images of each individual piece of produce. Through machine learning models, the system can identify cues in the produce around its freshness, degree of maturity, and phytonutrient content.
Based on those elements, suppliers and distributors can then decide where each piece of produce should go. Those with a shorter ripening window can ship to retailers geographically closer to the supplier, for instance, to avoid excess food spoilage. By way of example, today’s news announcement gave the following scenario: “If a produce supplier sees that one avocado will ripen tomorrow while another will ripen in 4 days, they know that one has more time to travel and should be sent to the retailer that is further away.”
Writing in a blog post today, Apeel CEO James Rogers noted that through the acquisition, “Apeel will now be able to integrate hyperspectral imaging technology into our supply chains, enabling us to provide new insights to our customers, both upstream and downstream, ranging from ripeness prediction to nutritional characteristics, even information on how the produce was grown; the very aspects that make every individual piece of fruit unique.”
Rogers added that Apeel has already started the process of upgrading its application systems to include hyperspectral camera capabilities. The company says it has 30 supplier integrations on three continents with plans to double that number by the end of 2021.