"I’ve been working with Unitec for about three years and I can honestly say that Unitec is one of the most professional companies that I’ve got to deal with in the packing sorting industry in the world of fruit around the globe."
The words of Daniel Jackson, owner of Family Tree Farms, leave no room for interpretation and fill the Unitec Team with gratitude. Family Tree Farms, Californian packing house with headquarters in Reedley, specialized in growing, packing and exporting blueberries and stone fruits worldwide, had already chosen to rely on Unitec in 2018 and 2019 with the installation of a blueberry and a peach line. This year it confirmed its trust in Unitec, by installing two additional blueberry lines.
"One thing I noticed when I started dealing with Unitec is they don’t oversell their product. What they told me is exactly what happened
and that gave us a lot of confidence. One example? They told us that their 16-lane sizer for the blueberries would run 7000 pounds an hour* and that was exactly true. And what was great is that it even overachieved: once we got into a little bigger berries, we actually run
9000 pounds an hour* on their line and we all know what that means as operators!"
* Capacity depends on the average weight of the handled fruit Ed.
The lines owned by Family Tree Farms are equipped with Unitec Blueberry Vision 3 system, which is able to sort blueberries with great accuracy and reliability according to multiple parameters - internal quality (softness), external defect, shape, size and color. This allows to create many quality classes that can satisfy the different tastes of the consumer and the different markets and distribution needs.
"An aspect that I really like about this technology," stated Daniel Jackson. "is the quality sorting: you can sort by size sorting, you can take out shrivel, reds and greens, the dreaded beards and stems that we all deal with as operators of blueberries, that just keep us up at night and give us nightmares."
Thanks to its high-resolution cameras, which scan 100% of each blueberry, Blueberry Vision 3 separates “premium” quality blueberries, with very valuable characteristics, from those of second or third quality for the food industry. Moreover, it divides the product of second or third quality into different additional categories.
Jackson then focused on how having a Unitec line is an important advantage in times when weather conditions are not favorable: "In the years passed when we had to sort conventionally, with human eyes, there was so much more room for error. When we had a heat wave or a rain event, we saw our quality go down and at times we would have to stop, stop picking, but thanks to the Unitec lines we were able to continue picking, to sort out that bad product and the result is a product of great eating quality, a great experience blueberry that we can give to our customer and be proud of."
Jackson speaks of a great consumer experience because the full satisfaction of the end Consumer is always the ultimate goal. And this satisfaction goes hand in hand with the absence of complaints: the help of Blueberry Vision 3 technology minimizes complaints due to discrepancies between the product agreed with the distributor and
the one delivered. The product sorted with this technology is a product that does not betray, that does not hold any surprise. As a result, Unitec technology works as a real quality and consistency mark of the product at every delivery.
Jonathan Peterson, Production Manager of Family Tree Farms, is very satisfied about it: "Quality for us is very important, especially in the three regions we are working in, making sure we can get the same quality fruit to the consumer."
And while this is important for the domestic market, it is even more important for the export market. Blueberry Vision 3 allows to reach markets far away from the place of production and to open export outlets thanks to the consistent quality within each package and between packages. Full satisfaction of the final Consumer, but also increased production efficiency within the packing house.