The Belgian cooperative, BelOrta is building a new sorting and packaging warehouse. It should be ready in September 2022. The new building will be constructed adjacent to the existing packaging plant. That was put to use in 2019. According to director Philippe Appeltans, BelOrta is spending €18 million on this facility. It's being built especially for top fruit.
"We must rely on smart technology. That's if we want to play at a high level in the fruit and vegetable sector. That technology will allow us to switch faster. We can then also deliver high-quality fruit and vegetables. This construction is an important investment. That's for the 400 fruit growers who are members of our cooperative."
Philippe Appeltans and Kris Jans
There are box and cardboard punnet set-up machines in the 2019 warehouse. "When the new facility is finished, we can bring the packaging to the sorting plant. We can then finish it before it's transported to our buyers. We're going to install an optical sorting machine. Then, we can guarantee top quality. We can also sort out the slightly damaged or deformed top fruit. Those can go to, say, processing industry clients. So, we'll limit our residual flows," explains Kris Jans, BelOrta's Fruit Division manager.
“The annual sorting capacity will be at 40 million kg of top fruit. That will be in the first phase after the building's completion. However, that's not our limit. In time, we hope to scale up to 60 million kg of apples and pears per year. For many fruit growers, it's not feasible to buy sorting and packing machines. That's why the cooperative's investing in this project. You must be big to be profitable. As a cooperative, we can guarantee this scale. We hope constructing this new warehouse will ready us for the future," concludes Kris.