Semi-Finalists Move One-Step Closer
Toward Transforming the Future of Automated Blueberry Harvesting

Naturipe Farms awarded $10,000 to each of the four semi-finalists of a challenge to identify innovative ways to improve automated harvesting of blueberries so that more of the little blue dynamos can make their way to local supermarkets and restaurants.

Who we are

Naturipe Farms is a farmer-owned producer of wholesome, good-for-you fresh berries. As a group, the growers provide consistent and diverse seasonal berry crops, share resources, skills, labor and knowledge. As a result, we are better farmers and in turn strengthen the local growing community.

To ensure year-round availability we are committed to locally, and globally, grown seasonal berries. Our fresh berries are farmed in the most optimal growing regions throughout North and South America.

Hortifrut S.A., Chile

Twenty-five years after inception, Hortifrut S.A. has evolved into a major exporter of fresh berries planted throughout the world. With increased consumer demand for berries, Hortifrut is able to “counter–season” production in Central and South America. Hortifrut S.A. is one of the world’s major berry suppliers and has produced organic blueberries for more than 15 years.

MBG Marketing

MBG Marketing (Michigan Blueberry Growers), The Blueberry People™, is a grower-owned blueberry cooperative formed in 1936 by the original blueberry growers in the state. This group of blueberry growers is highly regarded as a leader in horticultural expertise and research. Their membership extends into northern Indiana, Georgia, Florida, British Columbia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, and the Pacific Northwest. Their cooperative includes over 300 growers.

Naturipe Berry Growers

Since 1917, Naturipe Berry Growers (NBG), a marketing cooperative owned “by growers for growers” has brought the finest berries to market. Based in Salinas, California, NBG grows strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries within the very specialized maritime climate of the Pacific Coastline, including Irvine, Oxnard, Salinas, Watsonville and Santa Maria. Dedication, over 95 years of experience, select growers and solid, safe growing practices have made Naturipe Berry Growers, Inc., an undisputed industry leader.

Munger Farms

For three generations, the Munger family has farmed their land in the sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley. Their partnership with Naturipe Farms translates to the single largest source of fresh blueberries on the west coast. The Munger Family is extraordinarily proud of their commitment to three generations of farming experience with cutting edge techniques, assuring consistent flavor and quality blueberries.


Since 1999, yet2 has scouted for, negotiated, and closed hundreds of deals, bringing our Open Innovation clients hundreds of millions of dollars in value and exceptional new technologies to meet both tactical and strategic goals. Our services can directly fuel clients’ bottom-line growth AND speed time to market.

The opportunity

Harvesting blueberries for the fresh market is heavily reliant on hand labor, careful handling and is a slow process.

The growing popularity of these healthy and nutritious little blue dynamos™ across the world has spurred the development of great tasting varieties, an ever-growing surge in consumer demand and increased investment of land and plantings by growers.

Current automated harvesting machinery is inefficient and lacks the new technologies that can enhance consumer satisfaction, reduce food waste (efficiencies and effectiveness) and reduce the reliance on hand harvest labor.

Naturipe Farms, the global leader in growing fresh blueberries, invites innovators, developers and technology integrators to help transform the way we will harvest blueberries in the future.

Harvest Process

What we`re looking for

Main ideal operational specifications:

  • Size and color sensing for maturity calibration
  • Careful handling to avoid fruit damage
  • Ability to fill field trays and/or baskets
  • Average production of 500 kg/day
  • Harvesting capability 24/7, to include nighttime when low temperatures contribute to higher fruit quality
  • Mobility capabilities in uneven ground and dusty conditions
  • Fabrication cost per unit less than $500,000 USD

Additional favorable features:

  • Ability to detect pests and disease
  • Fruit firmness detection
  • Ability to register the harvested performance per plant
  • Be georeferenced

What we offer

Opportunity to establish a strategic partnership with a global leader in berry production to deliver the next generation in blueberry harvesting worldwide! $250,000 US dollars in prize money.

One to Five Semi-finalists will receive a $10,000 prize and will have the opportunity to discuss a joint development agreement with Naturipe.
Under a JDA, development costs will be funded by Naturipe upon achievement of mutually agreed milestones and budgets.
The final winner will receive $200,000 prize upon delivery of the working prototype that has demonstrated it can meet or exceed the desired outcome and be a viable commercial automated system.


Fresh blueberries are destined primarily for the retail stores and restaurants were the demand for fresh fruit is at its highest. These berries must look good, firm with intact skins, no noticeable skin splits or openings. Fresh berries are used as snacks, in salads, yogurts and cereals and as such the need to be intact and look appealing. The goal is to develop an automated harvesting method that results in high quality berries at the same level as hand picking, with no/minimal bruising, no/minimal stem outs, no/limited mechanical damage, and capable of selecting the proper maturity level to ensure an excellent consumer eating experience.
No, you can still submit an initial proposal by September 30, 2015 (this will ensure that you will receive feedback by Oct 16, 2015) and/or a final proposal by December 4, 2015.
Fresh blueberries need to be damage free (or nearly damage free) in order to hold up through the cooling, handling, storage and distribution before arriving at the consumer. This cycle can be from 1-6 weeks long or more depending on the condition on the berries, weather conditions at harvest and the destination markets, length of storage and shipping times. Under perfect conditions blueberries have been stored for several months and still maintain an acceptable quality for consumers.
Spacing 3 meters between rows Spacing 3 meters between rows 0.7-1 meters between plants.
The heights of plants are between 1.5 -2.0 meters.
Each plant has ~ 3-4 kg of blueberries and is harvested between 5-7 times during a 10-12 week harvest time, which produces an approximate yield range of 500-600 grams per day. Based on the lower estimate range would require 1,000 plants for 500kg per day. Currently hand harvesting averages 100 - 200 kg per person per day depending on the crop set (how many berries are on the bush – it will vary year to year, field to field).
Based on the lower estimate range 1,000 linear meters. The machine must be stable enough to support itself on uneven topography, various degrees of soil moisture (from very dry to very muddy). Rows will vary in length and width, at the end of a row the harvester will need to be able to move similarly as a tractor in order to enter the adjacent rows. The field conditions will dictate the distance and speed travelled as well as the crop density. As a comparison to fresh hand harvesting it requires 1-1.5 individuals to cover approx. 1/2hectare (1 acre) per day.
As many as five semi-finalists will receive a $10,000 prize and have the opportunity to discuss a joint development agreement with Naturipe. Under a JDA, development costs will be funded by Naturipe upon achievement of mutually agreed milestones and budgets. The final winner will receive a $200,000 prize upon delivery of the working prototype, that has demonstrated it can meet or exceed the desired outcome and be a viable commercial automated system.

Updated Timeline

  • 1

    Call for proposals begins:
    July 15, 2015

  • 2

    Expression of interest: August 31, 2015 (initial proposals and/or final proposals can be submitted even if Expression of interest was not given)

  • 3

    Initial proposal submission deadline: September 30, 2015
    (proposals submitted by this date ensure that they will receive thorough feedback from yet2 to be incorporated into the final proposal submission; however final proposals can still be submitted even if an initial proposal was not submitted)

  • 4

    Feedback for all initial proposals:
    October 16, 2015

  • 5

    Final proposal submission deadline:
    December 4, 2015

  • 6

    Semifinalist selection:
    January 29, 2016

Contact Us

For Further Questions, Information, or to Submit an Expression of Interest,
Contact us below.

Check here if you would like to submit an expression of interest for the Naturipe Blue Challenge