BIOFRUIT (New directions in statistical methods for BIO-impedance analysis of FRUIT ripeness)

Project Title: BIOFRUIT (New directions in statistical methods for BIO-impedance analysis of FRUIT ripeness)

Project Duration: 07/2020 – 12/2021

Project Description: The reliable and real-time assessment of fruit quality and ripeness from the field to the table through harvesting, handling and transport is extremely important in order to meet production and consumer demands, and at the same time drastically reduce food waste. To reach these objectives, there is an urgent need for fast, reliable, cost-effective and portable non-destructive techniques allowing a real-time quantitative-based high-throughput decision making process. Among non-destructive techniques, electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) has proven to be a particularly suitable method, allowing a link between the measured bio-impedance and the fruit physio-chemical changes. Nevertheless, the use of bio-impedance analysis for fruit quality control is currently severely limited by the lack of a precise prediction method enabling a direct relationship between fruit quality and ripeness and bio-impedance response. In this context, the interdisciplinary and interfaculty project BIOFRUIT at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano proposes to combine expertise in electronics and sensor systems from the Faculty of Science and Technology with expertise in statistical modeling for multivariate data analysis from the Faculty of Economics and Management, with the aim to develop a solid methodology able to support the whole agri-food sector throughout the entire production chain and fruit market. First of all, BIOFRUIT aims at developing and applying innovative statistical methods suitable for analyzing the complex and high-dimensional impedance data and thereby useful to provide a reliable prediction of fruit quality and ripeness. A further goal of the project is the development of a change-point detection method based on clustering algorithms in order to identify the optimized frequency range required to precisely assess quality and ripeness using both bench-top and portable impedance analyzers. Thanks to the combination of a large dataset of bio-impedance of fruits collected through a well-defined design of experiment and the above mentioned ad-hoc optimized models, BIOFRUIT will enable a significant hardware and software optimization of an already-developed hand-held and low-cost bio-impedance analyzer and therefore a ubiquitous application of the system in an on-field and post-harvest context. The outcomes of the project BIOFRUIT are expected to contribute not only to the scientific communities of statistical multivariate modelling and bio-impedance analysis, but also in the agri-food industry. Furthermore, the project will also have a significant positive impact locally, as the final optimized portable system will be applied to realize a real-time system for harvest time decision and fruit monitoring in the main cultivation in the area, the apple. A dramatic reduction of a vast amount of food waste and a consequent non-negligible monetary saving by local producing companies is thereby foreseen thanks to BIOFRUIT.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Luisa Petti

Project Collaborators:
Dr. Marta Lilja Di Lascio, Prof. Davide Ferrari,
Faculty of Economics and Management - University of Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy

Funding Agency: UNIBZ ID Call 2020

For more information please contact Dr. Pietro Ibba.