Traditionally, the asparagus season is short and intensive: the first goods -produced via heated cultivation- will arrive at the market at the end of February at the earliest, and by June 24th at the latest, the whole thing is over again. This is precisely why it is so important that asparagus processing is fast and reliable. It is a challenge that packaging machine manufacturer Redpack is happy to take on.
"Packaging asparagus is not a challenge in itself," says Markus Nöthen, Sales and Operations Manager DACH & South Tyrol. "The vegetables are very uniform; not too long or thick, but at the same time they will not roll around. Therefore, we are able to package the vegetables in flowpacks with our Redpack NTS, at very high speeds of around 100 units per minute. This speed shows the clear advantage our machines have over those from the competition."
The problem for many producers, particularly in Germany, where many asparagus are still sold in farm stores, is the short season: "With a season of only a few months per year, many producers find it difficult to invest in their own packaging machine. The NTS is not only suitable for asparagus, but also for various types of leafy vegetables (mini-romana, chicory, etc.) or even herbs."
Redpack also offers short-term rentals from its pool of used machines: "The NTS is versatile, but we would also like to assist producers in whose portfolio this machine simply does not fit year-round."
Even in the UK, where farms are usually somewhat larger and sales are made through supermarkets, the short season is an obstacle to the purchase of specialized packaging machines. However, current developments on the world market will certainly influence this, Markus believes: "In the future, hygiene will be a more important factor in fruit and vegetable departments. Packaging protects against pathogens, while also extending the shelf life of fresh produce. Asparagus is traditionally a vegetable that is bought fresh every day, but due to the pandemic, consumers are increasingly making weekly purchases. The prolonged shelf life will be great for them."
"After a year like 2020, everyone is a little more concerned about who came into contact with the food - whether in the supermarket, at the weekly market or in the farm store. With our packaging solutions, we try to offer a good middle ground between hygienic safety and the lowest possible packaging costs," Nöthen concludes.