The grand opening of TOMRA Fresh Food’s Field Research Centre saw the New Zealand-based team showcasing technology from their purpose-built facility, linking all aspects of innovation and development manufacturing from field test orchards through to technology commercialization in one single location.
The event brought together more than 100 horticulture and technology leaders from across New Zealand who were welcomed by CEO Geoff Furniss and his Fresh Food leadership team, who then hosted tours of the new innovation facility and its manufacturing operations.
David Hughes, CEO of Plant and Food, also addressed attendees remarking on the tenure and productivity of the relationship between the two organizations and the benchmark for how public and private organizations can partner to deliver technologies to the industries they serve. Hughes also acknowledged Furniss’ vision and dedication to innovation in the horticulture sector by opening this facility.
Highlights of the evening included a behind-the-scenes look into the pursuits of TOMRA Fresh Food, including test plots and field growing operations, their Fresh Fruit Science Program and testing labs, and their real-world testing space where they simulate flexible environments and multi-climatic conditions varying wet/dry, temperature and humidity levels with each of the seven core commodities they specialize in.
Attendees also enjoyed exclusive insights into the TOMRA Fresh Food experimental research process, where rapid innovation prototypes are developed and tested and had the benefit of in-person demonstrations of the electronics architecture and systems building. The tour spotlighted TOMRA Fresh Food’s artificial intelligence platform, LUCAI™, showcasing the extensive and expanding features across the sensing technologies for large fruit. Also on display were their latest robotic case packing machine, the KETE16, and yet-to-be-released technologies that await commercialization later this year.
“Deeply understanding the value chain our customers’ experience is what truly sets us apart. Having this Centre connected to our own field growing operations allows for newly designed technologies to be tried, tested, and developed with the help of practical in-field experience,” says Furniss.
The two-level building hosts 3300 square meters of factory and 1800 square meters of office and R&D space. TOMRA Fresh Food provides innovative packhouse solutions for the fresh produce industries across apples, citrus, avocados, tomatoes, kiwifruit, cherries, and blueberries.