Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor was in Ettrick to open the technology upgrade at the CAJ van der Voort packhouse on March 8 in front of about 160 guests.
Some of the latest in New Zealand and Dutch pipfruit sorting and packing technology has been installed in the packhouse, to cope with a predicted 50% increase in the business’s pipfruit volume during the next few years.
The new technology would also ensure greater efficiencies and productivity, without losing the 85 to 90 staff.
Packhouse post harvest manager Jackie van der Voort did not wish to say how much the upgrade cost, as it was “commercially sensitive”, but the cost was “substantial.”
Ms van der Voort said the installations were the third of their four-stage project.
The first stage of the upgrade in 2016, included providing better staffing facilities.
“Stage two was when we expanded the shed, added 70 metres and a canopy in 2017,” she said.
Stage three includes the upgrade of all plant, equipment and infrastructure, including the installation of a Dutch 14-lane Greefa Geosort system, which can produce about 2500 cartons an hour, an increase of 60% in production.
Greefa also supplied a new infeed system integrated with a CR Automation high pressure apple wash system and brush bed as well as its latest External Quality System which allows them to distinguish between different defects.
New Zealand company Haden and Custance supplied a new empty and full box carton system.
Oji Fibre Solutions’ national sales manager, Andreas Haussrer, and Turners and Growers’ Peter Landon-Lane also spoke.
The fourth stage of the project is focused on automated palletisation, in 2021.