Oranges are the most popular fruit in the world and make up over half of all citrus fruit produced for food. Florida, Brazil, and China make up over 80% of the world’s orange juice production. Once the fruit is picked, it must be sent to either packing stations or to processing plants, where the fruit is turned into fresh or frozen juice, or concentrate, or further processed into products such as essence oil, d-limonene, or pectin.
Incoming truckloads of oranges are evaluated for either packing or processing. An important property is sweetness, which the industry equates with sugar content. Degrees Brix, a unit of measure developed by the sugar industry, is commonly used for single-strength orange juice. Oranges from a truckload are juiced and analyzed in the laboratory with a refractometer or hydrometer. The results determine where each truckload of oranges is to be routed. The process can be slow and labor-intensive. Truckloads of oranges destined for packing or juicing arrive at processing facilities. Determining whether the oranges should be packed whole or juiced takes time. Juice from a batch is measured for dissolved solids, an analogue for sweetness, and the truckload is dispatched accordingly. Courtesy of Headwall Photonics.
Headwall conducted a study using a Hyperspec MV.X hyperspectral imaging system to rapidly collect spectral data from whole oranges and process it in real time. Algorithms developed by the company predicted the degrees Brix values, which were delivered immediately. This helped to speed up receiving operations, optimize decision-making, and deliver significant return on investment for orange packing and processing facilities.