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Wim van de Ree:

“Information on potato quality available sooner”

Nedato has been supplying potatoes from 500 associated cultivators for more than 50 years already. The company supplies about 250,000 tonnes of potatoes for the processing industry in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany annually, and packs 100,000 tonnes for retail, food service and export. The potatoes are all subjected to an extensive inspection, a sample is taken from each batch during harvesting, to assess quality. Quality is also assessed at various moments during the storing period. Upon delivering by the cultivator, a tare sample is taken, to decide payment price for the cultivator.

Providing insight into quality
Taring is necessary to agree on fair compensation for cultivators. Inspecting the samples continues throughout the year, even when the potatoes are still in the ground. “By taking samples, we know what the batch will look like. We always inspect weight, underwater weight, appearance and deficiencies,” says Wim van de Ree from Nedato. “That way, we can give cultivators reliable information about their batch. Quality and possible deficiencies are a decisive factor for the payment prices for the cultivators.”

Nedato’s tare line was recently renewed. RMA-Techniek from ’s Heer Arendskerke in the Netherlands carried out the renewals and improvements of the tare line. “The tare line is basically a small production line, suitable to volumes of 1,000 kilograms. We reused part of Nedato’s existing line, and we have also placed new machines,” says Michel Remijn from RMA-Techniek. “The new line allows Nedato to inspect the potatoes quicker and more accurately. All data or tare information will be collected in a computer system.”

More efficiency and less manual labour
The tare line now has, among other things, a new rock/clod separator, washer and a new salt bath. “Intercepting rocks and clods was still being done manually. Only the potatoes meant for industry are given a salt bath, by simply lowering the conveyor belt. The potatoes with an underwater weight that is too low, and therefore float, are separated from the good potatoes. Furthermore, we assembled weighing belts with weighing bins underneath the sorter. Potatoes are then weighed and unloaded on one of two conveyors, based on size. One of the conveyors heads towards the disposal bin, and samples are taken from the potatoes on the other conveyor, for further inspection.”

“The new tare line has automatised everything,” says Wim. Manual labour is now limited to manually reading out the potatoes on the reading table. Additionally, the weighing system underneath the sorter makes sorting the potatoes quicker and easier. “We can now look at how many potatoes are in a batch per size. This is an advantage both to us and to the processors. We have especially made a catch-up effort in the field of capacity. We can now take more samples, more often. We have the information available sooner now.”

Challenging season
“Because of the weather circumstances, we are dealing with special conditions this season. Certain regions had many green potatoes, because of the rain in spring, and the dry summer and autumn. This means we need more employees at the conveyors, to take the potatoes showing deficiencies out,” says Wim. Growth cracks are also a problem, as well as the high starch content, causing sensitivity to bruising. “We are going to have to be very careful with the potatoes,” Wim concludes.

For more information:
Wim van de Ree
[email protected]

Michel Remijn
Publication date: