28 Mar Exciting new food equipment heading this way
New Zealand food processors will soon have access to a range of new innovations for food handling.
EQM’s Tim and Anthony Bloxham attended Fruit Logistica in Germany where they got the opportunity to take a first-hand look at latest technological advancements in food handling equipment.
Over 76.000 visitors and 3077 exhibitors attend FRUIT LOGISTICA every year covering every single sector of the fresh produce business and provides a complete picture of the latest innovations, products and services at every link in the international supply chain.
Anthony said there was a wide range of innovations that could be suitable for New Zealand’s food sector.
“It was mind boggling to see so many innovations under one roof and see how these could immediately be used in New Zealand packing environments or simply modified.
“We specifically went to Fruit Logistica to identify new packing and processing systems that would benefit New Zealand food companies.”
We looked at a lot of new ideas in product packaging and the automation of packing it. There are a lot of machines available to take a common product (for example an apple) and automate processes like de-nesting trays, aligning fruit and loading all types, sizes and shapes of trays, crates, cartons, plastic and net bags, punnets, to name a few, as well as wrap, sleeve, bundle or even band them with branding, through to placing the market ready package into the crate or carton that will transport it to its final destination. Then crate or carton conveyor systems that can further package, organize, label, stack and palletize ready for dispatch to the market.
Some of the innovations were not just the shape, but also the materials the packaging was made of or protected with, so they can withstand a wide range of environments from wet and cold to hot and humid between packhouse, transport, distribution and always striving to keep the product in premium condition all the way market.
“It’s definitely about raising the bar when it comes to the quality of fruit and vegetables and potentially enables guaranteeing longer shelf life in many cases.”
Products that caught our eye:
Collapsible plastic crate erecting machine that automatically takes a pallet load of flat crates and erects them, restacks them and feeds them onto a conveyor without labour support.
Fruit scanning – there’s new technology that can scan the inside of fruit and vegetables to further establish quality. The technology can scan for taste, sugars and density. This all helps work out the life of the product.
Advances in Fruit labeling systems that print on demand, reducing your label stock as well as having the capability to design your own label.
Net bagging machines that make a much wider range of sizes and shapes and styles of packaging solutions dependent on how you want to present the fruit or vegetables with larger and clever spaces for branding.
The 2017 winner of the FRUIT LOGISTICA Innovation Award was for a product called Knox which delays the discolouration (so-called pinking) at the edges of fresh-cut lettuce. This not only extends the shelf-life of lettuce by one to two days, but also reduces food waste. This discolouration is visually unattractive to consumers so has previously led to the wholesale rejection of even unaffected produce.