2018 Young Entrepreneurs Awards Winner: Abi Ramanan

Initiative: ImpactVision

Country of impact: US

A business that uses advanced imaging technology to assess food quality in supply chains, reducing waste and boosting yields.

A third of the food produced by farmers all over the world is wasted.

A lot of this waste occurs in product quality control centres where samples of food are taken by breaking apart meat, fruit and vegetables. Food that doesn’t pass quality control is either discarded or sold at a lower price.

Making the food system digital

After winning a scholarship to Singularity University, California in 2015, Abi started looking at the potential of sensors, data and software to make food supply chains more digital and efficient. Shortly after, she set up ImpactVision along with her co-founder Gustav Nipe.

The company’s imaging technology can show the quality of foods, such as the freshness of fish, the ripeness of avocados or the presence of foreign objects. It is non-invasive, meaning no food is wasted in the testing process, and it is quick.

Cutting waste, improving returns

One of the biggest food retailers in the US has used the software to better understand the shelf-life of its beef, cutting waste by 25%.

Similarly, the technology can help customers sort avocados based on similar ripeness levels, enabling them to command a 30% price premium for delivering consistent products

The technology can also detect non-magnetic contaminants, such as plastic and paper that might have found its way into foods. This means that food won’t have to be taken off supermarket shelves and thrown away, something that costs the US food industry US$5 billion a year.

Next up, Abi will launch a smartphone app for assessing fish freshness. And in two years’ time, she hopes to make her API available for third-party developers to build their own solutions using ImpactVision’s data.