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"Automated grape picker has great potential for the fruit and vegetable sector"

Pluckr wins Food Vally Award 2014

De Pluckr, a machine that rapidly picks the grapes from the vine using ultrasonic vibrations, and doing so with little to no damage to the grapes, has won the Food Valley Award 2014. The machine was developed by JFPT/foodlife in close cooperation with TOP.

"Winning this prize is so great. It is a huge incentive for us to keep on innovating. Putting new technology on the market is a big challenge. Winning the Food Valley Award will definitely help us in the future," says Patrick Jansen from JFTP/Foodlife. Wouter de Heij from TOP adds: "We are extremely proud of the result from our collaboration. Winning this award is the cherry on top, and proves that innovating technology solutions make the sector more profitable. We are happy that we were able to contribute."

The new grape picker is a compact machine with three to twelve heads. Each head consists of a stainless steel arm and a vibrating pincer. Dependent upon how many heads the Pluckr has, it can pick between three hundred and six hundred kilos of grapes per hour. In comparison, when picking the grapes by hand only twenty kilos of grapes can be picked per hour.

What is unique about this machine is the ultrasonic vibration technology that is combined with the drive technology, which can move both up and down, and from front to back. The grapes are then vibrated loose with little to no damage, in contrast to the existing system in which the grapes are massaged until they fall off. The machine can also be combined well with the new technology where fruits are packaged under controlled conditions, in order to lengthen the shelf life of the grapes by three to four weeks.

The jury of the Food Valley Award said the following about the Pluckr: "We are impressed with the combination of the different innovations that make this machine what it is. It is extraordinary how JFPT/foodlife and TOP have worked so intensively together with researchers in order to bring new technologies to this machine. We believe that the Pluckr has considerable market potential due to it's wide applicability. This machine offers many advantages for the vegetable- and processing industries."

This is the tenth time Food Valley NL has given out the Food Valley Award. An independent jury judged the entries using the following criteria; innovative quality, economic feasibility, originality and the degree of cooperation during the development phase. Along with the Pluckr, the following innovations were also nominated: the durable and insulating gift packaging innovation for champagne from PaperFoam and Veuve Clicquot and the cool, fresh, pasteurized, baby food innovation from Pit-Foodconcepts.

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