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US (WA): CMI’s new apple line keeps prices down for consumers

Perfectly sorted apples and a Northwest hail storm, what do these two things have in common? At first it would seem like the two are an oxymoron of sorts, but for CMI and McDougall and Sons, (CMI’s largest growing entity and one of their founding owners,) their packing operation has had improved pack outs - amidst a hail storm thanks largely to their new Greefa sorting machine.

Greefa is one of the world’s largest developers and manufacturers of sorting machinery for fruit and vegetables. Their high quality products are used by companies like McDougall who want to take advantage of cutting edge technology to increase productivity and efficiencies in their packing line. Bryon McDougall, Director of Operations for McDougall and Sons reported, “In just the short time we have been running on our new apple packing line we have already documented 30% more volume, or 2400 more boxes a day.”

The original reason that the McDougall and Sons looked to their new Greefa line was more from a handling aspect than for defects. Soft handling is essential for special varieties like Honeycrisp, and this new machinery would allow for substantially less repacking due to bruising caused by machines.

Plans for the installation of their new and improved packing line were made far in advance of the Northwest hail storm, but have proven to be a timely investment. Hail storms are hit or miss, and can affect growers at different levels making sorting very tedious and time consuming – ultimately affecting the customers with fluctuating prices. Bryon McDougall, explains how the installation of the new machine has helped control prices, “Without Greefa sorting technology, our cost to our customer would be much higher this season. When sorting a compromised lot, we are able to maintain speed and salvage more fruit than we could by hand. At the same time we are able to maintain the integrity of our premium fruit.”

In the video you will see the technology that takes up to 70 pictures of every apple during its passage along the singulator.

Obtaining accurate box weights, every time, can be a challenge and required many adjustments and time in the past. With the Greefa machine, pre-weighing the fruit is the second process done after pre-sorting for defects. Now box weights are nearly perfect, every time. See second attached video to see the weighing process.
Continuing to raise the bar and increasing the quality of their packing operation is the promise that the CMI and McDougall and Sons have made this season. Their new Greefa line allows them to survey the internal quality of fruit by using a light source to create a full spectrum analysis. This spectrum analysis will allow for future testing on fruit to test the storage capabilities; this will become most helpful when identifying fruit that is intended for export markets.

For more information:
Katharine Grove
Columbia Marketing International - CMI
Tel: +1 509 888 3427
Mob: +1 509 885 0444

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