The Dutch company, Looije Packing's, citrus washing line is very popular. "Handwashing is outdated. It takes longer, costs more, and has a poorer end result. Thanks to the washing line, the end product is cleaner and looks and stores better. We're increasingly being asked to wash entire batches. Particularly from companies that specialize in retail sales. This cleaning line offers them a start to giving their end client a little security," says Business Developer Rene Tunker.
Last year the company moved from Cool Port Packing Rotterdam to its own premises at ABC Westland. There Looije Packing washes and packages citrus. That brings the business to a total of five sites. "We plan to install a second citrus washing line next year. We can package products in nets and flow packs. We also have techniques like laser branding at our disposal. So, we can offer our clients a full service. Our other locations mean that, if there are peaks, we can switch quickly."
24 hours a day, if necessary
The line can be used for oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruit, and limes. Looije Packing washes avocados with it too. "This large variety of products means this line can run almost year-round, 24 hours a day, if necessary. In the overseas season, we had to deal with unusual market conditions," says Rene.
"There were shortages on all sides, but at least we have the capacity. We can run through three containers in 24 hours. We've gained quite a lot of experience with the line. A few of our people have already followed a multi-day training course at MAF Roda in Spain. Now we can get the most out of the line."
"A lot of people have the wrong idea about washing citrus. The fruit doesn't pass through a bath; it's cleaned with a combination of air and water mist. The citrus is brushed and dried twice. It then goes to be sorted," says Rene. The line can be used for organic citrus too. But, cleaning and replacing the brushes takes a lot of time. So, the company plans these batches well in succession. Next summer, the line will run with mainly organic produce.
"MAF Roda's citrus washing line features the latest, advanced technology. This includes HD cameras and infrared lamps. Once the fruit is washed and dried, the HD cameras scan it. The citrus spins on cups in the line. That means each camera takes up to twelve photos, capturing the whole fruit. Thanks to the infrared lamps, the cameras can detect the smallest mold spots. They also sort the fruit by color. So, spots that are invisible to the naked eye are detected, and the fruit immediately removed. This leaves only the very best citrus to pack," concludes Rene.