The innovative Japanese automatic peeler developer, ASTRA recently released a new peeler model, particularly suitable for the onion industry. The sales manager, Ryo Takeshita introduced the features of this new model and shared with us the technological concept behind the innovation.
“When talking about ASTRA, ‘more than 20 types of fruit can be peeled by one ASTRA peeler’ is the first impression that the processing industry has of us, and this is what we are famous for. But our specialty is not limited to the fruit sector. In recent months, we received many requests from old clients. They want us help to them automate the onion peeling process. So we developed a new peeling model that is specifically geared for onions. The model is slated to be introduced to the market in early September.”
Ryo first explains the unique feature of the onion peeler. “Unlike other types of fruits and veggies, an onion is very difficult to peel as it has a very smooth and light skin. A normal blade may only stay on the surface, or even if it peels, the skin gets stuck to the blade. So, we used a special blade that can catch the smooth skin while peeling, and also achieves a maximum reduction of product waste during the process. Besides, the software of the machine is completely different than other regular models. Users can easily adjust the peeling depth from the surface.”
Ryo inferred the reason why he got so many requests for an automatic onion peeler in recent months. “Nowadays small-scale restaurants mainly peel onions by hand in their back of house, while most big-scale chain restaurants are supplied with ready-peeled onions from peeling factories. The problem is that onions start to spoil from the moment their outer skins are peeled, resulting in high waste percentage and reducing the product freshness.
During the epidemic period, despite customers’ hygienic concerns, it is difficult for businesses to predict how many people the restaurant will serve per day, which means they cannot exactly know how much peeled products they should order. When using a machine, food stores can peel the products whenever they need, which makes their business easier and more efficient. And with its compact size (about 30cm x 30cm), the machine can be placed in any place.”
“Those chain restaurants who have freshness concerns often have to hire more laborers to manually do this job. We heard from a potential customer (burger store in the US) that they have 5 people in the backyard only peeling onions for making fresh burgers.”
Ryo added, “Using an automatic peeler, not only reduces labor costs, but businesses are also able to supply more customers.” Ryo continues, “To give an example, nowadays the California government limits the number of the people inside the store. But if you reduce the number of people working in the kitchen, more customers can come and eat in the store.”
“Although it is our new product, we’ve already got 50-100 order reservations in Japan. We are very happy to see that these companies are willing to order newly-developed products and wait patiently. This also reflects how much trust the market places in our brand and technologies.” Ryo said, “It is not difficult to see that when a restaurant consumes a certain amount of onions per day, the Return of Investment (RoI) can be very short.”
“We are proud of our made-in-Japan reputation. With more than 20 years of experience investigating automatic peeling techniques, our brand received over 10 international patents regarding the peeling machine, and it is the only machine that can peel with a peeling blade.” As ASTRA Inc. sees the booming opportunity in the overseas markets, the company is now looking for distributors in many areas.