Cousins, Marinus and Frederik Bunt, call themselves the Dutch 'plum masters'. And not without reason. Their company, B&B Fruit, is unique. It's the only nursery in the Netherlands that links the entire plum chain within a single business. That's from planting trees and producing the fruit, right up to sorting, packing, and selling the fresh plums. This year, they'll put a new sorting and packing plant into use. All interested parties are invited to see it at their open day on June 26.
"We've built a 2.000 m2 warehouse. And we outfitted it with Sorma Benelux's new sorting and packaging machine. This is a true stone fruit machine, suitable for calibers from 30 to 100mm. It's not yet being used anywhere else in the country. The big advantage is that we've integrated all the sorting and packing handling in one line. The old machine sorted by color and diameter," Marinus Bunt begins.
"But we had to determine the quality manually. This machine weighs and sorts automatically and also inspects the fruit's inside. Fruit and skin damage is therefore automatically sorted out. That's the most significant efficiency gain we've made. We can offer customized programs and even sort out ready-to-eat plums automatically." The machines can fill the plums into punnets or larger crates or boxes.
"We sort and package a few million kgs of plums annually. In the season, we now work 24/7 with three shifts. These have 16-20 people each. In the new situation, we should go back to two, ten to 13-person, shifts. Although, our production's still increasing. For us, saving this labor is a big improvement. We work a lot with temporary staff," Marinus continues.
"Sometimes people are off sick, for instance. Then it's hard to find competent replacements. We still always need people." He reflects on the construction work with satisfaction. Van der Grift carried it out. "Everything went according to plan and our complete satisfaction. We're perfectly ready for the start of the plum season in mid-July."
The grower's optimistic about the plum season. "We expect an 80% harvest. Thanks to our expansion, we'll certainly not pick fewer plums than last year. There'll be fewer early varieties harvested. But that of the later varieties is very full. We're confident about the season. And we'd like to show our new sorting and packing station to interested parties. That's at our open day on Saturday, June 26 between 10:00 and 16:00." Marinus concludes.