It might sound like a strange question, but the answer is – more than you think! We sat down with our very own Avi Schwartzer, CEO of Clarifruit, to find out a bit about his background and his story, and how he came to start the company in the first place. Here’s what he had to say!
Is your background in fresh produce quality control?
Not at all! For ten years before we established Clarifruit, I was working for Hewlett Packard, well known as HP in Israel. Back in 2005, HP had bought Mercury Interactive, an Israeli software company that invented automatic testing for the software world, and I found myself co-running one of Mercury’s leading testing products.
Did you enjoy the work?
It was a great place to be working, right on the cutting edge of new technology. Mercury really changed everything for software development. In the early days of computing, the average developer would be sitting in a room, working on creating the next version of any given software. This was all done manually on their own individual machines. Each QA guy would run the software locally, and go through each and every feature to make sure it was all working according to design.
That sounds exhausting!
It really was. You can imagine how labor-intensive and time-consuming it would be to go through every single line item, before being able to give the thumbs up to management so that they could release the new version. By that point, the software had likely changed again! Mercury changed all of that. It was the first automatic checking and testing software of its kind, revolutionizing the way that software is being checked across the board.
Obviously there has been a lot of change in the software testing industry since then though, right?
The world of software and technology is incredibly fast paced. But if you think about the latest innovations in DevOps and the cloud, with CI/CD pipelines for software updates… none of that could have been possible without automated testing software that can check for updates in real-time and find bugs or issues through automation.
Ok – but what has this got to do with fresh fruits and vegetables?
When I worked at HP, I ran the automated software testing product from the R&D side of things. I saw how software changed on a daily basis, how features were always being adapted, moving towards being dynamic, and that there was a real need for automated quality control to keep up. Now, here comes the connection to fruits and vegetables! One day, I was sitting in my garden, and I picked a clementine which disappointed me – it was so bland! I realized that a day here or there, or small changes in temperature or handling, made as much of a difference to fresh fruits and vegetables as small factors or minutia did to software, except it was all happening under the surface, with no way of telling the quality from the human eye alone.
Did you think there would be an automated solution available?
I was surprised to see that the way stakeholders were measuring the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables was entirely manual, just like those groups of QA staff sitting in front of their computers. Just like software was stuck, unable to move to accommodate a higher velocity of updates and feature changes, or reflect the changing nature of the software in real-time, fruits and vegetables were following the same pattern. In reality, the quality of the produce was changing materially from one day to the next, and yet inspections were being done subjectively, inaccurately, and often blindly, at a single point in time.
What was your next step?
You’re looking at it! I essentially felt that I wanted to apply that same automatic testing concept that had been such a hit at HP, and move it onto the fresh produce supply chain. I wanted to create a platform that can handle fresh produce quality control testing automatically. And I did! With Clarifruit, we’re reducing the amount of time and effort that goes into fresh fruit and vegetable quality control, at the same time as making it more efficient, accurate and effective.
What do you see the future looking like for Clarifruit?
If we follow the same logic that we’ve seen play out in software testing, I think the Clarifruit goal is to see a continuous testing concept move into the fresh produce world the same way as it has for software. There is a huge amount of waste in the fresh fruit and vegetable world. If the Clarifruit platform could be used across the board, from growers in the field, to packers in warehouses, to online marketplaces and retailers in-store, we could mitigate that waste and raise revenues across the supply chain. That’s just one of the reasons why we believe Clarifruit will soon be the standard QC tool for fresh fruits and vegetables across the whole value chain.