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Italy 10/09/2019

Italian cooperative Apofruit: how to make hard cherry season profitable

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2019 cherry season got to a terrible start with heavy rains that compromised the quality of the crop. Just before this hard season the company installed InVision TotalView cherry sorting platform. With the InVision TotalView platform, Apofruit was able to recover good fruit even from the poor lots it received in the early weeks, resulting in a positive outcome for the cooperative, which closed the difficult season profitably and was able to support its farmer members.

Apofruit is an excellent example of the advantages that Compac’s automated sorting technologies can bring to packhouses, as explained by Roberto Ricci, Compac Regional Director EMENA: “Compac has developed extensive experience in the world’s key cherry markets, including Washington State and California in the USA, Chile, New Zealand, Italy, Greece and Turkey. This enables us to develop innovative solutions tailored to meet the diverse needs of processing plants. As Apofruit’s experience shows, by transferring this experience to marketing focused companies we can help them guarantee the quality of their premium products and give them a competitive advantage.”

Apofruit’s decision to purchase the Compac technology was driven by its mission to consistently deliver the highest quality produce to its customers, as well as two key challenges of the sector. The first one is meeting the very different requirements of the various types of Apofruit’s customers, which range from supermarket chains to smaller retailers. Flexibility and speed are key to success.

The second challenge derives from the fact that the bulk of the country’s cherry production comes from small farmers. The cooperative, which processes around 2,000 tonnes per year, receives a multitude of small lots of mixed quality. These are collected at its facilities where they undergo a water-cooling process, then shipped to the Vignola plant near Modena for grading, processing and packing. This fragmentation of the supply significantly adds to the complexity of managing the whole process from receiving, storage and processing, all the way to the final sale. It also means processing a supply of mixed quality to deliver a consistent product, which would be impossible without significant manual grading –resulting in additional labor costs.

The solution offered by Compac is a full Compac SFS 6L InVision 5-View line, later upgraded with the TotalView inspection module. The InVision technology combines powerful imaging, controlled lighting and cherry rotation to enable accurate and consistent grading for size, shape, color and blemishes. This performance is taken further with the TotalView module, which provides 7 views of the cherry and detects stem and nose defects such as rain cracks and mildew, while keeping current production speeds.

The InVision TotalView platform delivers high accuracy of defect grading, and particularly stands out for its ability to grade nose cracks caused by rain, run bad lots faster and recover good fruit from these lots. That is how Compac’s system saved the season for Apofruit and its members, as Mr. Claudio Magnani, Apofruit Technical Director explains: “The difficulties of this year’s cherry season were very obvious to everyone, and there is no doubt that Compac’s InVision technology contributed to mitigating the dramatic consequences by enabling us to process fruit lots that we would never have been able to manage with traditional methods. If I had to sum up the advantages of this platform in one sentence, I would say it is the constant high quality it delivers that would be difficult if not impossible to achieve with the human eye.”

Visit Compac at PMA Fresh Summit (Anaheim, CA, USA, October 17-18) at stand 3411 to find out more about the benefits of cherry grading and sorting solutions.

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Apofruit's cherry line
   
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