Industry has created the need for a cost-effective and nondestructive quality-control analysis system. This requirement has increased interest in near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, leading to the development and marketing of handheld devices that enable new applications that can be implemented in situ. Portable NIR spectrometers are powerful instruments offering several advantages for nondestructive, online, or in situ analysis: small size, low cost, robustness, simplicity of analysis, sample user interface, portability, and ergonomic design. Several studies of on-site NIR applications are presented: characterization of internal and external parameters of fruits and vegetables; conservation state and fat content of meat and fish; distinguishing among and quality evaluation of beverages and dairy products; protein content of cereals; evaluation of grape ripeness in vineyards; and soil analysis. Chemometrics is an essential part of NIR spectroscopy manipulation because wavelength-dependent scattering effects, instrumental noise, ambient effects, and other sources of variability may complicate the spectra. As a consequence, it is difficult to assign specific absorption bands to specific functional groups. To achieve useful and meaningful results, multivariate statistical techniques (essentially involving regression techniques coupled with spectral preprocessing) are therefore required to extract the information hidden in the spectra. This work reviews the evolution of the use of portable near-infrared spectrometers in the agro-food industry.
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