Brian Blum
September 30, 2019, Updated October 2, 2019

“Disruption” is a common superlative applied to technology startups. Craigslist disrupted the classified advertising business. Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry.

Now, a new Israeli company aims to disrupt the fruit market, encompassing some 116 million acres of fruit orchards globally.

Markets in general are ripe for disruption when inefficiencies eat away at their core. The issue with fruit is knowing how much the trees on a farm will produce in a given year.

In industrial farming, this is known as “yield estimation” and it’s accomplished today in a remarkably low-tech way: Farm crews do a manual, visual “count” from the sampling of a few randomly selected trees in the field or in photographic images. From there, they extrapolate to the entire orchard.

But because it’s very difficult to distinguish unripe green fruit from green leaves, inaccuracies ranging from 30% to 40% are common. And wrong yield estimation results in less (or even no) profitability.

Israeli agricultural-technology startup FruitSpec aims to solvethis problem by using hyperspectral imaging to collect and process information from across the electromagnetic spectrum, not just what the eye can see.

FruitSpec combines that imaging with computer vision algorithms to report a count the actual amount of fruit it finds. The technology can also estimate the size of the fruit when it matures.

Providing yield estimation as a service, the company claims its technology has demonstrated accuracy rates of greater than 95%.

FruitSpec raised $4 million this month from South African ag-tech investment company AgVentures and China’s Hubei Forbon Technology.

“Given the fact that in China apples are already traded as a future commodity in the exchange market, and more agricultural produce will be listed in the near future, the information provided by FruitSpec will be invaluable for the participants in the market,” said Renzong Wang, CEO of Hubei Forbon.

FruitSpec is a portfolio company of The Trendlines Group. For more information, click here.

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