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Using Spectroscopy to Prevent Food Waste

  • Food & Agriculture
  • Reflectance
blueberries in green containers

Food waste is a huge problem. According to the U.N., we waste 1.3 billion tons of food per year globally. Much of the waste occurs in the supply chain, as growers, distributors and retailers all have large amounts of surplus food and subsequent waste.

Food Waste and Its Causes

While it's clear what "food waste" means, what is more poorly understood is why the waste is occurring in the supply chain. The main causes of food waste include:

  • Fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) that don't meet our high standards for appearance, color, size and shape. 

  • Food that is near or past the "best-before" date. Sometimes the "best-before" date is accurate and other times it is far too conservative, leaving consumers with even months more to safely eat something.

  • Edible food that is unused and is simply thrown away instead of donated or recovered.

Reducing food waste benefits the environment, but every part of the supply chain also would benefit financially from a reduction in food waste.

The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization has called for food waste to be halved by 2030, which has major players in the food system considering this problem. This has presented a large opportunity for technology start-ups to assist companies in meeting their sustainability goals.

New Enterprise: OneThird Takes on Food Waste

OneThird was formed by members of Ocean Insight via the Halma Digital Edge Hub, a digital incubator hosted by our parent company, Halma plc. The founding members, Marco Snikkers and Carly Burleson, went into the incubator with knowledge on spectroscopy and data science, a passion for improving global issues, and open minds.

Based on research and conversations with stakeholders at all parts of the supply chain, it became apparent to the OneThird team that reducing food waste was a huge need. They also learned that having an accurate prediction of food shelf life would make those stakeholders’ decisions much more informed and lead to large reductions in food waste.

OneThird Moves Ahead

Since 2019, OneThird has built its team to nearly 10 full-time members and has begun trials with major customers in the food supply chain. The team has worked with Ocean Insight to develop handheld scanners, which determine shelf life in produce to within a day of accuracy.

As the work continues, OneThird is constantly developing AI algorithms to make sense of the spectral data for various types of fresh produce and provide the most accurate prediction of shelf life. Also, OneThird has collaborated with a highly respected digital solutions provider to develop a cloud-based data sharing application and mobile app that allow users to visualize data, analyze trends and make smart business decisions that in turn reduce food waste. 

To learn more about OneThird's vital, life-changing technology, visit and request a demo, consult a food waste expert, or start a trial.

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