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Innovation Award

The INC Innovation Award celebrates the creative spirit of the nut and dried fruit industry by focusing attention on the most significant new product/service introduced in the market.

Winner of the 2021 Innovation Award QcifEye: The future of quality control and line monitoring

Qcify, USA

Always wanted to know what's really going on in your processing line?

Looking for an extra, affordable set of eyes to monitor your product quality in real-time?

Ever dreamed of removing impurities without a complete redesign of your production lines?

Interested in actionable and Big Data, but you don't know where to start? 

Meet QcifEye: The future of quality control and line monitoring 

Growing production volumes are pushing existing processing lines to their limits. Most feature too many pieces of stand-alone equipment, requiring too much manual monitoring and adjustment. This results in too little data collection to increase efficiency and optimize processes. Combine this with staff shortages due to increasing labor costs and COVID-19, and the result is a processing line that is very subjective and reactive.

The QcifEye AI Sensor is the solution. Installed as a sensor box over your existing processing line it no longer requires the classic expensive overhaul of your entire production line. 24/7 objective monitoring allows for optimized line control and the defect image database results in unseen traceability.

The QcifEye AI Sorter adds even more: it can be attached to the sensor box to pick out impurities from the processing line. Because it uses compressed air, there is no need for expensive vacuum systems. The QcifEye AI Sorter inspects and sorts 24/7 without human intervention, reducing labor costs and giving processors a return on investment of under a year.

Driven by AI and deep learning algorithms, the QcifEye uses a network effect to make field machines continuously smarter. Launched in 2020, QcifEye’s patented cutting-edge technology is transforming the food processing industry by delivering the highest possible quality.

Say goodbye to human inspection and lunch breaks and hello to an unwavering attention to your product resulting in actionable data.

More information here.

The Italian peanuts by Noberasco

Noberasco, Italy

“A long time ago, we found the perfect seed. We grew it in a single pot, and we worked hard to make it grow beyond all expectations… ”

From the beginning, working on our certified peanut production chain has been an adventure, slowly growing from one small plant to our recently released product ‘100% Italia’, aptly named after the 100% Italian origin and supply chain –from cultivation to packaging. These unique and high-quality peanuts are characterized by their light shade, balanced toasting profile, and full-bodied, pleasantly persistent taste.

Aside from their delicious flavor, we are especially proud of our certified production chain that heavily relies on blockchain traceability, precision farming, drones and satellite monitoring systems for the most effective cultivation. With the help of these technological advancements, we are able to trace every single step of the supply chain, guaranteeing our consumers maximum transparency about the origin and methods used.

We also want to make the secrets and adventures surrounding our peanuts known to our consumers, so a brand architecture was created that concentrated on six central values: the history of peanut production in Italy, our peanut varieties, our certified supply chain, cultivation and production, taste and nutrition and, finally, our goals. Telling our story through these values allowed us to generate a communication tool that was in line with our vision, as well as offering a transparent and genuine glance behind the scenes for our consumers.

More information here

Multiscan S30W, the most advanced sorting system for in-shell Walnut

Multiscan Technologies, Spain

Launched in 2021 with immediate market success, the Multiscan S30W is a compact system designed for an unmatched sorting of in-shell walnuts. Through the combination of a disruptive transport system and advanced algorithms, it offers high versatility and efficiency. The Multiscan S30W overruns currently available technology by:

  • Improving walnut sorting performance to achieve desired final quality, including sizing
  • Minimizing required labor and associated costs

This unique solution combines four differential elements:

  • Roller transport system to achieve complete rotation and analysis of each fruit
  • Multispectral vision system specifically adapted to walnuts
  • Machine learning and advanced algorithms
  • Innovative double air-valve rejection system for a 3-way sorting

In a footprint of less than 3.5 m2, a throughput of up to 360,000 fruits/hour can be achieved. A dual-chassis option (S30W DUO) will provide up to 720,000 fruits/hour, or an equivalent capacity of approximately 8 tons/h (18,000 lbs/h).

Covering a wide range of quality defects, the 3 configurable outputs will allow the user to arrange the sorting in many ways, removing defective fruit (adhering hull, stains, cracked, broken) and under/over-sized.

The high-performance computer incorporates OPC/UA communication protocol to facilitate data management and reports for real-time decision making.

Unique and innovative for the Walnuts market

Unlike current sorting solutions for in-shell walnuts, mostly focused on color only, the Multiscan S30W provides a unique, differential technology, named SpinSort, which allows a comprehensive analysis of the product while maintaining high capacity and compactness. This disruptive technology makes the fruit rotate 360º under the camera system for a complete external viewing, efficiently detecting quality issues not seen with conventional color sorters and minimizing the need for manual sorting.

The Multiscan S30W is a state-of-the-art technological solution designed to automate in-shell Walnut quality sorting, to effectively achieve final product specifications while minimizing labor costs.

More information here.    

VERYX BioPrint® Optical Sorter for Nuts and Dried Fruit

Key Technology, USA

VERYX BioPrint® is a new optical sorting technology for nuts and dried fruit, featuring a unique inspection method that fuses signals from hyperspectral imagers and color cameras into each image pixel. As result, VERYX BioPrint uses an unprecedented volume of information to more accurately detect and separate product defects and foreign materials from good, in-grade product.

VERYX BioPrint innovative capacity for pixel-level integration of different sensor signals allows nuts and dried fruit processors to achieve their quality grade specifications with fewer sort passes. This helps minimize handling and reduce yield loss from product degradation or breakage.

VERYX BioPrint utilizes a new infrared hyperspectral imaging system to determine the unique biological composition of every object in the product batch. This positive material identification process ensures the elimination of organic and inorganic contaminants that may be present in the product stream regardless of shape, color or material structure, or how closely they may visually resemble good product.

Signals from the VERYX BioPrint hyperspectral sensors are fused at the image pixel-level with signals coming from high-resolution color cameras. Those cameras operate in the visible light spectrum to identify surface defects and perform accurate color grading of the product.

VERYX BioPrint is an example of technology evolving to support the nuts and dried fruit industry’s drive for continuous improvement in process efficiency, product quality, and food safety.

More information here.   

World Map of Hazelnut - Science & Tasting kit

Nutopia Orchards, Italy

We believe that knowledge is critical for tackling more significant challenges in our lifetimes. Suppose humans learn more about the existing raw materials in our biodiversity. In that case, they will start to appreciate and connect with nature to become the keystone species they meant to be for preserving the life balance of their very fauna flora.

Albert Einstein once said that a real treasure of the Earth isn't gold or silver, but its seeds and biodiversity.

The monoculture of conventional farming is threatening our future. We aim to shift our destiny by opening pilot gardens to enhance the farmers' knowledge about the interlocked microbiological soil food web life that relies on biodiversity to run smoothly and regenerative agriculture practices, which mimic the wilderness of real nature in our farms, ranches and gardens to obtain the true natural characteristics of our food crops, increasing soil carbon capture capacity and flourishing ecosystems.

Learning about the taste of different hazelnuts from different regions, the carbon cycle of hazelnut or Maillard reaction, which gives the caramelization taste and brownish color to roasted hazelnut or to grilled beef steak, may not change our lives entirely at this moment, but will stimulate curiosity and immerse ourselves to unknown wonders of the world, which can trigger the evolutionary butterfly effect to a transact from war economies to information economies.

Right now, we are counting days for the 2021 harvest, and we all have the opportunity with our voting decision to connect one to another like-minded wisdom seeker person. To convey a powerful message and commitment to live respectively with limited world resources and other species, to be the primary vector of balance and regeneration of a planet that can continue to nourish our kids with spherical compassion.

Nutopia Orchards

Designed by common meticulous people as an attempt to be part of the solution

More information here

PureHeart Nutpaste - 99% Natural Cashew Paste

Western India Cashew Company, India

CashewPaste! The MasterChef @ Home

It’s 2021. The world’s still in pandemic and ‘stay at home’ the mantra for well-being. The home’s the new office, the new gym and the new club. The kitchen is the new restaurant, and families are struggling to fulfil their aspirations for ‘chef-style’ dishes at home.

There is a secret ingredient aiding the art that ensures the rich taste and aroma of Chicken Tikka Masala and Mughlai Vegetables –Cashew Paste. Its preparation involves a laborious process of cleaning, washing, pre-soaking and grinding potentially unhygienic or stale cashew pieces, mostly sold unbranded or loose. It is also difficult to get the consistency, thickness and mouthfeel right with home-grinding.

These pain-points inspired the launch of PureHeart Nutpaste - 99% Natural Cashew Paste, India’s first mass-market Cashew Innovation that helps recreate ‘chef-style’ dishes at home.

PureHeart Nutpaste - 99% Natural Cashew Paste comes in a Stand-out 90gm premium tube that helps control dosage. It is ambient stable with 12 months shelf life. Its smooth consistency ensures it is completely miscible with all gravies and imparts a rich, creamy deliciousness and a well-rounded taste profile. It is vegan and packs heart-healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients. Strong trials and repeat purchases clearly validate how PureHeart Nutpaste - 99% Natural Cashew Paste is adding value to the consumer’s life.

This product comes from Western India Cashew Company (WICC), India’s top exporter of value-added cashew products. WICC is GFSI and ETI certified and supplies cashew and almond products to leading food manufacturers and retailers. Its PureHeart range of nuts, nutmixes and nutspreads is among the leading brands in the States it operates in.

More information here

Ready-to-Use Nut Pie Crusts

Diamond Foods, USA

At the dawn of a new decade, Diamond of California® has disrupted the once sleepy ready-to-use pie crust category with American grocery retailers, launching ready-to-use Nut Pie Crusts in both Walnut and Pecan varieties. These were the baking aisle’s very first pie crusts made with nuts and other wholesome kitchen pantry ingredients. Home bakers and cooks across the country have embraced this innovation, using them for both sweet and savory recipes for the holidays and long after.

Rather than rely upon pressed cookie crumbs often made with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, and artificial flavors, Diamond brought its expertise in nut processing into this innovative new product line. By using a by-product from processing tree nuts to help reduce the use of flour and sugar, Diamond was not only able to bring a delicious and texture-rich product line to market, it also contributed the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are present in tree nuts.

To build on the success of this product launch, in 2020 Diamond introduced a new chocolate nut pie crust platform. The platform launched mid-year with a Chocolate Nut flavor made with a blend of walnuts and pecans. The addition of real cocoa gave the crust that rich chocolatey taste, making it the perfect companion for sweet pie filling recipes like banana cream and chocolate truffle.

Finally to end 2020, a fourth, limited-edition holiday flavor, Peppermint Chocolate Nut was introduced in partnership with the country’s largest mass merchandiser/grocer. This seasonal flavor was inspired by peppermint barks and peppermint mochas found in chocolatiers and specialty coffee cafes. The timing of this new flavor launch delighted home bakers, bringing a nostalgic and comforting flavor in a both innovative and accessible form in the midst of the pandemic.

More information here