Organic farming is booming: the proportion of land devoted to organic farming in Bavaria has continued to rise steadily since 1994. Consumers have particularly high expectations for the quality of organic food. High quality is essential all along the supply chain: from the harvest, to logistics and storage, to processing, and finally transport to retail outlets. It is hoped that a new sensor detection process developed during a joint research project between Frauhofer IVV, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), TH Nürnberg and other partners will be able to help ensure that expectations as to quality are met. Using a combination of sensor technologies, optical methods and intelligent algorithms the researchers have constructed hand-held devices and smart software, which can easily be used in smaller businesses too. The joint project ‘SHIELD’, which stands for using sensory detection processes to guarantee the quality of (organic) locally produced food, is due to start on 1 July 2021, and has received 1.2 million euros in funding from the Bavarian Research Foundation.
‘If we are to stop unnecessary damage or waste of raw materials along the food supply chain, we need simple and reliable procedures which allow raw materials to be analysed when the goods are received,’ explains Prof. Dr. Andrea Büttner, Executive Director of Fraunhofer IVV and Chair of Aroma and Smell Research at FAU.
Also involved in the project at FAU are the Chair of Food Chemistry; the Chair of Economics, Discrete Optimization, and Mathematics; and the Machine Learning and Data Analytics Lab. The sensors can provide immense quantities of data about the shape, colour, size, and quality of the raw goods, as well as other important information. Based on these data, the Chair of Economics, Discrete Optimization, and Mathematics and the Machine Learning and Data Analytics Lab can develop methods and models for forecasting shelf life and potential sales of the products.