The installation of Reemoon's brand new four-lane blemish grading machine has led to improved productivity for an Australian citrus producer in a year where fruit damage has been up in previous seasons.
Clear Lake Citrus is based on Lake Wyangan, Griffith in the New South Wales Riverina, and it started using the Fruscan S7 this season. Managing Director Patrick Mancini says the company had reached the stage where the old equipment was no longer doing the job that was required to reach the specifications for the chain stores that we supply.
"The reason I went with Reemoon was that we have been to their factory and saw how they make the graders," Mr. Mancini said.
"After things got put on hold during COVID, Reemoon made us an offer that I couldn't refuse. He gave us one of their complete lines that include soft bin fillers, so when the fruit gets graded, it actually soft fills the bins; there is an elevator that goes inside the bin and handles the fruit gently. This limits damage to the fruit. They were also trialing their blemish grading technology, which hasn't really come out yet - we are one of the first. We are slowly getting all the blemish profiles sorted out, but it is doing everything that they said it was going to do."
Clear Lake Citrus is a family-run business that was established around 26 years ago. It has just started with its own fruit, specializing in Navel and Valencia oranges, but packs for 50 other growers who supply them with their fruit, and it supplies not just domestically but is now getting back into the exports. This was another reason behind getting the new system installed, as overseas markets want the top-level fruit.
He added that Fruscan S7 is an extremely useful technology to have, especially this citrus season, where Mr. Mancini says it has been one of the worst years that he has seen in terms of fruit blemishes.
"We have had excess rain, and the weather has not been kind to us," he said. "There are a lot of blemishes that we don't normally see together. We either see a light blemish or an albedo (a puffy rind or skin); it's usually one thing or the other. This year, however, we are seeing everything. So, we are in a good position to have it on a year like this, where we can grade out all of the different types of blemishes that we see at the moment. It improves productivity because we can say more definitively that it is a grade one, or grade two, or premium piece of fruit. We are not having to sort the fruit by using more labor, and it does the job more accurately. We are confident in giving customers exactly what they want."
Reemoon is a Chinese-based company, and another factor influencing the purchase of this technology was the technical support. Mr. Mancini says they not only installed the machine but offered Australian-based technicians to help us run through the new technology and the conditioning process.
"As soon as the containers arrived, it was pretty much all hands on deck," he said. "They had people to put it all in line, and within three weeks, it was all up and running, which was right on schedule. I was very surprised by the quality of the machine when I got it. Sometimes you don't know what you are going to get, but even the people putting it together in Australia said it was a robust machine, and Reemoon has used high-quality materials. Again, a big thing with Reemoon is that when they put a new machine in, they ensure that you have a technician that stays with you until you are comfortable letting the machine run on your own. It is not like they send someone for a couple of days. The support we have received is second to none."
The citrus component for the machine can cater to all lines; Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. Switching between programs is just a matter of switching the grader, and it will be able to sort out the level of quality required.
Reemoon will host an event in Griffith next week, with more than twelve businesses from the region and as far away as Mildura and South Australia to attend an official opening, presentation, and tour of the Clear Lake Citrus facility next Wednesday, the 6th of July.
For more information
Clear Lake Citrus
Phone: +61 2 6962 7659
Whatsapp:+86-182 7070 6759