BioTropic's goal is to offer matured mangoes. This importer of organic fruit and vegetables has recently installed a ripening cell and sorting system in a warehouse at its Duisburg headquarters. It’s a million euros investment, but the pay off will be there. "It should be possible to triple total sales," said operations manager Sascha Suler.
Process supervisor Thorsten Reno in one of the ripening cells
The organic mangoes arrive from exotic countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Senegal, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast. At the point of shipment, however, the fruits are in different states of ripeness, which are hard to determine with the naked eye. Four special mango ripening cells and a state-of-the-art sorting facility allow mangoes to be offered in different categories according to customer specifications. Sascha Suler: "We have already had a successful trial run with Spanish mangos. Consumers rated the fruit very positively.”
The sorting system is completely computer controlled
To enable the importation of Ready2Eat mangoes from overseas, the fruit is put into the ripening cells immediately after its arrival and then into the sorting plant. "With a fully automated computer system, we are able to control the ripening of the mangoes, after which we sort them according to ripeness, conditions of the peel, hardness and sugar content," said process supervisor Thorsten Reno. This combination of a hi-tech ripening process and state-of-the-art sorting equipment, used solely for organic mangoes, is quite unique.
One of the eight agricultural engineers tests the sugar content of the mangoes
Although conventional mangoes are already being processed using similarly advanced technology, organic mangoes can not be put through the same sorting equipment because of the risk of contamination by residues of the pericarp treatment agents of the conventional mangoes. In the special ripening cells mangoes can be ripened by means of aeration, temperature and humidity control. The mangoes there can be tweaked much more individually than in conventional banana ripening cells which have, for example, more limited temperature controls.
The sorting line in operation
At the moment the ripening and sorting plant is in its test phase. Suler: "We still have to see how the mangoes react to the ripening process and how we can optimally adjust the sorting system so that the customers will receive mangoes with the exact quality they expect." Because mangoes tend to ripen differently depending on variety, growing area, climate and cultivation and harvesting techniques, over the coming winter we will collect all the necessary data we need to ensure the plant operates optimally.
The sorted goods are divided according to quality and ripeness
All this data is then passed on to the local growers by one of the eight Biotropic agricultural engineers, so that in future fruit with deficiencies can excluded at the source. This way, the company will be able to control the whole supply chain from A to Z. This control makes it possible to reduce spillage after ripening and sorting, which will benefit everyone involved.
The maturity of the mangoes is tested by means of a computer system
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