A simple imaging system has been developed for acquiring multivariate images in order to characterise the heterogeneity of food materials. The objective of the present work is, first, to demonstrate the capability of this acquisition system to discriminate food products of different natures. Secondly, our goal is to apply Partial Least Squares regression on these multivariate images and to evaluate the interest of various strategies of classification. A data set containing 24 images (702 × 524) acquired at different wavelengths for four food products is analysed. After the establishment of the PLS2 models employed for predicting the indicator variables, four strategies of classification of observations are tested. The first classification is done by selecting the largest component of the indicator variables. The others are based on the measurement of distances to the barycentres of the qualitative groups. Distances calculated can be either Euclidian distances or Mahalonobis distances. Except the strategy based on the Euclidian distance on scores, the strategies are rather equivalent, with a slight advantage to the Euclidian distance on predicted indicators. Another possibility addressed by the use of linear discriminant analysis (LDA) on multivariate images is to represent the qualitative groups as artificial images. The largest confusion appears between both cereal products while others are well classified. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.