Valero Ubierna, Constantino and Ruiz-Altisent, Margarita
A quality assessment system for fresh fruits in hypermarkets and fruit trading centres..
In: "XIII International Congress on AgriculturalEngineering", 2-6 february,1998, Rabat (Morocco).
When the fresh fruit reaches the final markets from the suppliers, its quality is not always as good as it should, either because it has been mishandled during transportation or because it lacks an adequate quality control at the producer level, before being shipped. This is why it is necessary for the final markets to establish their own quality assessment system if they want to ensure to their customers the quality they want to sell. In this work, a system to control fruit quality at the last level of the distribution channel has been designed. The system combines rapid control techniques with laboratory equipment and statistical sampling protocols, to obtain a dynamic, objective process, which can substitute advantageously the quality control inspections carried out visually by human experts at the reception platform of most hypermarkets. Portable measuring equipment have been chosen (firmness tester, temperature and humidity sensors...) as well as easy-to-use laboratory equipment (texturometer, colorimeter, refractometer..,) combining them to control the most important fruit quality parameters (firmness, colour, sugars, acids). A complete computer network has been designed to control all the processes and store the collected data in real time, and to perform the computations. The sampling methods have been also defined to guarantee the confidence of the results. Some of the advantages of a quality assessment system as the proposed one are: the minimisation of human subjectivity, the ability to use modern measuring techniques, and the possibility of using it also as a supplier's quality control system. It can be also a way to clarify the quality limits of fruits among members of the commercial channel, as well as the first step in the standardisation of quality control procedures.