Costa de Huelva: Big installation in Europe to process blueberries

"Why have we decided to buy a Unitec line? Because, after having visited and seen all the existing ones in the market, this is the one which has offered us more reliability. You can rely on technologies with these features, they are 100% reliable!" says Cristóbal J. Picón Regidor, President of the Andalusian Cooperative Costa De Huelva.

Regidor has clarified the reason why he has chosen Unitec Blueberry Vision 2 to process and sort his blueberries. He went on to explain how much he appreciates Blueberry Vision 2, which enabled the Cooperative to reach all the objectives they had set in a short time, even if they were challenging: "We did the right thing in buying this line from Unitec, because it has met our expectations, even if those expectations were very high!"

Coophuelva is an Organization of Producers based in Lucena del Puerto, in the province of Huelva, a very well-known Andalusian area in the fruit and vegetable field. It's part of Onuba Fruit group, a leader in Europe for the growing and export of small fruit.

Coophuelva has relied on Unitec, by buying a 32-lanes installation - two sorters each of 16 lanes - equipped with Blueberry Vision 2 technology, to become one of the biggest lines in the world to process and sort blueberries according to their quality. It is able to process around 3.000.000 fruits per hour, that is an average number that may vary depending on the fruit it's sorting.

Unitec Blueberry Vision 2 technology has literally changed the way Coophuelva processes blueberries, helping the cooperative to solve several problems it was facing in the previous years and to achieve unexpected results so far.

Bartolomé Fernández, Coophuelva's Director, has been sincerely grateful towards Blueberry Vision 2 technology and has underlined the fact that the investment made in Unitec technologies does not have a real cost since it returns on it's investment in a short time thanks to the results it offers.

"We moved from having major quality problems up until last season, when customers refused our fruit several times, to this year, during which we have had almost no complaints and customers of the chains are asking for the fruit of the cooperative Costa de Huelva. And this is what will enable us to pay back our investments within a very short time, no more than three years."

Mr Fernández has highlighted how, thanks to the consistent quality, the end product, and the Cooperative itself, has gained reliability in the eyes of the final consumers.

"Thanks to the investment we have made in the technology we bought from Unitec, we and the partners have seen an increase in reliability in front of the customers. Blueberries are 100% guaranteed," and thus the Brand Reputation has improved, thanks to reliable supplies.

José Rodriguez, Head of Maintenance at Coophuelva, shares his opinion: "The advantage Unitec lines offer us is that they enable us to sell blueberries of extremely high quality. While before one defective blueberry could not be detected, with Unitec technology all the packed blueberries are of good quality! The final result we get with Blueberry Vision is a guaranteed success!"

In 2013, thanks to it's technical skills, 94 years of experience in the sector and after a direct and continuous dialogue with the market, Unitec has moved in advance and bet on the possibility to create excellent and consistent quality in terms of this extremely healthy fruit. It has created a prototype to do the quality selection electronically and to give a response to new market needs, which were requiring consistent quality and no overripe fruit.

Today, five years since that prototype was created, Unitec technologies have reached important targets thanks to their experience gained in the main blueberry markets, such as Latin America, North America, Europe and South Africa.

Unitec Blueberry Vision 2 enables us to examine the whole fruit, both internally and externally, in order to detect all possible defects: from a small overripe or soft area, to a small external peel defect. It sorts fruit according to several parameters: internal defects, external defects, shape defects, degree of softness, in addition to the usual size and color.

Moreover, thanks to its high level of automation, Blueberry Vision 2 enables us to cut considerably labour costs and any complaints coming from possible human errors in the sorting, thus resulting in a great increase in efficiency of the fruit processes.

All this, as José Rodriguez explains, combines with a gentleness in the fruit handling and full respect of the natural characteristics of fruit: "Regarding the line gentleness, the way the product is handled is amazing! After blueberries are dumped in the line and later leave the machine, they don't lose anything in terms of quality, nor the bloom. They get a special treatment!"

This competitive advantage achieved by Coophuelva, thanks to the use of Unitec Blueberry Vision 2, has led final consumers to ask for their product and become loyal to their supplies. This is how the Cooperativès Director, Bartolomé Fernández, concludes: "Since we bought Unitec technologies for the optical sorting of blueberries, the advantages presented themselves immediately. All our customers are asking for products which have been processed by this line because it's a guarantee of total quality. And this has led us to have more opportunities in business for the future."

For more information on Unitec technologies: www.unitec-group.com

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