July/August 2022 - 33

No speed limit for IFPA's accelerator program
We have long
By Vonnie Estes
Vice President,
International Fresh
Produce Association
known that public
health is at the core
of global economic
outcomes. We also
know that the produce
industry, providing the
healthiest products
on the planet, is
positioned to help
address these issues
and in turn, to grow
a healthier world.
For many of the obstacles to develop
healthy outcomes, a solution may already
be out there. Just as it's imperative to
think outside the box to solve problems,
sometimes we must look outside the
industry - and our own backyard - for
solutions to address fresh produce and
floral's major challenges. International
Fresh Produce Association's new Fresh
Field Catalyst program aims to do just that.
Full speed ahead
IFPA's six-month technology accelerator
program empowers global companies to
bring innovative technical solutions to the
produce and floral industries. Selected
through a competitive application process,
the 12 inaugural members of the program
hail from across the globe, including
Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland,
Israel, Singapore, Slovakia and the U.S.
They are tackling some of the industry's
biggest problems, including food waste,
climate crisis, water and resource scarcity
and improving sustainability, to name just
a few. Time is of the essence in addressing
these pivotal issues and the cohort wasted
no time in getting acclimated to the
produce industry.
The group kicked off their journey
in May with a 2022 Immersion Week
Tour, packed with 10 visits to IFPA
member companies. The participants
traversed throughout Northern and
Central California, touring the innovative
operations of a diverse mix of some of
the most prominent growers, shippers
and packers: Bayer, Bolthouse Farms,
Concentric Power, Driscoll's, Emerald
Packing, Plenty, Sun World, Taylor Farms,
the University of California, Davis and
Wonderful Citrus.
Throughout the week, the group
members got immersed in digital
farming systems, crop protection, ag
research, R&D innovation, packaging,
hydroponics, vertical farming and more.
For most of the participants,
it was
their first exposure to agriculture and
its challenges on such a grand scale. It
was also their first exposure to fresh fruit
and vegetable companies' immense sense
of pride in their work - on full display
in the fields, facilities and factories -
a defining characteristic that sets the
produce industry apart from others.
Fresh produce can prove to be a
difficult space to enter, with the wide
range of commodities, regions and
policies creating many challenges.
Fortunately, conversations with the tour
hosts sparked key insights on entering the
produce business market, go-to market
strategies and business models, and
customer engagement and needs.
In turn, the hosting companies
experienced the breadth and depth of
the impactful technologies in action.
As some of the biggest players in the
the hosts are frequently
approached with technologies, many
of which are irrelevant or inadequate
in meeting their needs. What's unique
about the accelerator program is that
the participating companies have done
the work already and have proven their
technologies to be effective in an adjacent
or more focused market.
Keeping the pedal to the metal
In addition to the corporate and field
visits, participants will work one-onone
with industry mentors, engage in
bi-weekly virtual meetups with industry
experts on topics relating to industry
statistics, tech success and failure stories,
and challenges and access to funding,
and receive cont inued support
translate technology to agriculture
or U.S. market - all in the effort of
removing barriers for meaningful,
impactful and progressive innovation.
The program culminates at IFPA's
Global Produce and Floral Show in
Orlando, Oct. 27-29, where the dynamic
dozen companies will showcase their
groundbreaking technologies in action
within a shared exhibit space on the expo
floor, opening the door for countless
more introductions to industry leaders.
The challenges we all face in today's
global supply chain are vast, and in
the past, we've been expected as an
industry to create, fund and solve our
own challenges. That's not the kind of
change our industry needs anymore;
we're hoping that by reaching out
and creating tech streams from other
industries, we can begin to scale our
own ability to solve the problems only
the produce industry can.
Key adding AI-drive
foreign material alert
Key Technology will introduce AI-driven
foreign material (FM) alert software for
its digital sorting systems at Pack Expo
International in October.
The tool captures and saves digital images
of critical FM contaminants that the sorter
detects and rejects from the product stream.
Data outputs from the software can be
utilized to alert operators and/or signal a
downstream device.
As Key's sorters find and remove all types
of FM and a variety of user-specified defects,
most users will program FM alert to act
on only specific types of critical FM, such
as glass, plastic, rubber or wood. FM alert
automatically captures and saves a digital
image that is time-stamped and marked to
point out the FM contaminant.
The alert system is available for new Key
sorters, including VERYX, and is available as
an upgrade for installed Key sorters.

July/August 2022

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