There is little time left to start the blueberry season in Northern Europe, but some growers are already concerned about the influence of the coronavirus pandemic on their farms. Closed borders and quarantines caused by the virus Covid-19 can lead to shortages of employees in both picking and packing fruits. The virus may cause additional problems not only in employment but also increase production prices and, because of restrictions in transport, prevent some growers exporting their fruits.
Although the situation on the market is uncertain and many growers are afraid to make investment decisions, automation may be a solution to their problems. For example, full automatic packing line with colour and softness sorters can reduce the number of people working at packhouse up to 60-70%. Due to coming shortages in employment, this is a significant amount because these people could be transferred to picking fruits on the plantation.
According to Maciej Chmielewski from the Milbor PMC, integrator of sorting and packing lines for soft fruit, many growers should consider the packhouse automatization – “The investment in sorting system - combination of the BerryTek Chromax and Impulse Soft Sorter - provides a complete solution for sorting unripe as well as soft and defective berries. Too soft and damaged fruit that cannot be seen by people, are efficiently removed by machines. Growers gain better quality of the final product and also increase the efficiency of the entire process.”
“It should be emphasized that production costs include not only employee salary, but also overweight, which often appear in manual packing. By using our G2 Evolution weigh&fill, we are able to reduce overweight to a minimum - Evolution can maintain an average weight of less than a single piece of product.” – adds Piotr Milewski, Head of Sale in Milbor PMC.
"Thanks to cooperation with American manufacturers A&B Packing Equipment and WECO Sorting, we’re not afraid of production downtime for now. We are able to provide sorting and packing lines before the start of the 2020 season. We have large stock in our warehouse located in Poland, and can provide all spare parts necessary for the operation of the machines. Our service team is ready to support our customers every day," he adds.