Carrots are the 6th most consumed fresh vegetable in the U.S., with 85% grown in California. They come in a rainbow of sizes, shape, and color, from white to deep purple. But typically a carrot is considered qood quality when it is well-shaped, firm, and orange or orange-red in color. It should also be free of splits, mildew, soft rot, growth cracks, and decay.
Since the roots are primarily eaten raw, consumers often perceive carrot “quality and safety as the same thing.” So, for a carrot grower or exporter in the U.S., there are two goalposts: visually appealing carrots safe for consumption. Both are sacrosanct.
Struggles in carrot quality and safety
Weather, growing conditions, and soil all impact the quality of carrots, creating defects like greening, discoloration, and root-knot. Being a root crop, they are also susceptible to materials found in soil like stones. That means growers and traders have to sort out carrots with defects and any foreign material during the quality process.
And because carrots are sold in different forms and varying grades, specifications change from client to client. This makes it a struggle to keep up with the demands for quality and safety, particularly if the process is manual.
Manual inspections are slow and inefficient. They are also expensive because sourcing skilled labor is becoming increasingly difficult. But there can be no excuses on a grower’s or trader’s part. Irrespective of the circumstance, providing consistent quality is key to earning client trust.
Optimizing quality in carrots through automation
Automation is the game-changer here. Using A.I. to measure, record, and track carrot quality, speed and efficiency can be increased. But, more than that, you gain the peace of mind that the carrot quality delivered is always within specs.
A.I. lends objectivity to quality inspections and removes the scope for personal interpretations. Along with computer vision, it can detect nuances in quality. For example, correctly identifying an orange-red carrot from an orange scarlet – a difference the human eye can easily miss.
The easy-to-use solution can be configured to quality parameters vital to you and for different USDA grades. Besides standardizing quality, you get the benefit of workflow automation.
Here’s how it works:
You click photos of a carrot batch using a smartphone or a mounted setup. A machine learning algorithm assesses the images for color, shape, size and defects. It then generates a quality report instantly with paired images for each parameter, removing the hassle of pen, paper, and encoding data in spreadsheets.
All data is saved on the cloud, so reports can be shared with clients directly from the app, making the process more transparent. That enables growers or exporters to prove quality at the source and gain fairer pricing.
Another benefit of sophisticated technology is intelligence. With KPI-based dashboard and analytics, valuable data is processed to attain actionable insights and make business-critical decisions.
Reducing carrot loss and waste
Carrot traders primarily divide the produce into two buckets: good or bad. AI-powered technology opens up the possibility of a whole new product stream. For instance, a truckload of carrots that would have ended up in a landfill because it failed to meet the aesthetic standards can be channeled to food processors
Besides enabling the capture of different business opportunities, it reduces carrot loss and waste. This makes sense because 25-30% of carrots don’t make it to grocery stores because of aesthetic or physical irregularities.
A temperature check on carrot quality processes
It boils down to this. Carrot growers and traders need two jobs to be done. One, make inspections easier and better so quality supplied is consistent. Two, get fair pricing for their produce.
Investing in A.I. achieves both. It automates carrot quality processes, reducing sample size time to just 30 seconds and manual effort by 25%. Since quality assessment is objective and consistent, rejections are cut by 40%. It also brings traceability and accountability to the table, ensuring better pricing and building client trust.