Family Tree Farms relies on Unitec for the installation of two blueberry linesFamily Tree Farms relies on Unitec for the installation of two blueberry linesFamily Tree Farms relies on Unitec for the installation of two blueberry linesFamily Tree Farms relies on Unitec for the installation of two blueberry linesFamily Tree Farms relies on Unitec for the installation of two blueberry lines

Family Tree Farms relies on Unitec for the installation of two blueberry lines

The Californian packing house thanks UNITEC for keeping its word, its professional support and... the Results achieved!

"I’ve been working with UNITEC for about three years and I can honestly say that UNITEC is one of the most professional companies that I’ve got to deal with in the packing sorting industry in the world of fruit around the globe".

The words of Daniel Jackson, owner of Family Tree Farms, leave no room for interpretation and fill the UNITEC Team with gratitude.

Family Tree Farms, Californian packing house with headquarters in Reedley, specialized in growing, packing and exporting blueberries and stone fruits worldwide, had already chosen to rely on UNITEC in 2018 and 2019 with the installation of a blueberry and a peach line. This year it confirmed its trust in UNITEC, by installing two additional blueberry lines.

"One thing I noticed when I started dealing with UNITEC is they don’t oversell their product. What they told me is exactly what happened and that gave us a lot of confidence. One example? They told us that their 16-lane sizer for the blueberries would run 7000 pounds an hour* and that was exactly true. And what was great is that it even overachieved: once we got into a little bigger berries, we actually run 9000 pounds an hour* on their line and we all know what that means as operators!"

First of all, what positively surprised Daniel Jackson was how UNITEC kept its word. Not only that, Jackson was also satisfied by UNITEC representatives who never oversold the proposed solution during the discussion of project. This aspect is in UNITEC DNA.

The lines owned by Family Tree Farms are equipped with UNITEC Blueberry Vision 3 system, which is able to sort blueberries with great accuracy and reliability according to multiple parameters - internal quality (softness), external defect, shape, size and color. This allows to create many quality classes that can satisfy the different tastes of the consumer and the different markets and distribution needs.

"An aspect that I really like about this technology – stated Daniel Jackson – is the quality sorting: you can sort by size sorting, you can take out shrivel, reds and greens, the dreaded beards and stems that we all deal with as operators of blueberries, that just keep us up at night and give us nightmares! […] You can see the product coming out, you can send it to process, you can send it to juice… while from all the other exits you will get premium quality product!"

Thanks to its high-resolution cameras, which scan 100% of each blueberry, Blueberry Vision 3 separates “premium” quality blueberries, with very valuable characteristics, from those of second or third quality for the food industry. Moreover, it divides the product of second or third quality into different additional categories.

Jackson then focused on how having a UNITEC line is an important advantage in times when weather conditions are not favorable:

"In the years passed when we had to sort conventionally, with human eyes, there was so much more room for error. When we had a heat wave or a rain event, we saw our quality go down and at times we would have to stop, stop picking, but thanks to the UNITEC lines we were able to continue picking, to sort out that bad product and the result is a product of great eating quality, a great experience blueberry that we can give to our customer and be proud of."

Jackson speaks of a great consumer experience because the full satisfaction of the end Consumer is always the ultimate goal.

And this satisfaction goes hand in hand with the absence of complaints: the help of Blueberry Vision 3 technology minimizes complaints due to discrepancies between the product agreed with the distributor and the one delivered. The product sorted with this technology is a product that does not betray, that does not hold any surprise. As a result, UNITEC technology works as a real quality and consistency mark of the product at every delivery.

Jonathan Peterson, Production Manager of Family Tree Farms, is very satisfied about it:

"Quality for us is very important, especially in the three regions we are working in, making sure we can get the same quality fruit to the consumer. […] Something that we have really been able to dial in."

And while this is important for the domestic market, it is even more important for the export market. Blueberry Vision 3 allows to reach markets far away from the place of production and to open export outlets thanks to the consistent quality within each package and between packages.

Full satisfaction of the final Consumer, but also increased production efficiency within the packing house. At Reedley, California, Family Tree Farms only employed 10-11 people to handle blueberries on the line, compared to 85 people who should have been employed if they had used the traditional way! The reduction of personnel is now more important than ever, as we are looking for real answers to a double need: safety in the workplace and safety of the final product. UNITEC lines for blueberries, thanks to their level of automation, respond to both: on one hand, they reduce to a minimum the manpower on the lines, thus promoting work in compliance with safety distances; on the other hand, they help to avoid the risk of product contamination by personnel, because blueberries do not come into direct contact with the operators during the process.

These are all advantages that Family Tree Farms has found not only in handling blueberries, but also in handling peaches.

As a matter of fact, in 2019 the packing house also invested in a UNITEC line equipped with Peach Vision 3 system, dedicated to the quality selection on peaches and nectarines, but also suitable for plums and apricots, and the positive Results were not long in coming.

"At Family Tree Farms we were the first company in California to install the line with Peach Vision 3. We just love this machine, we love the ability to vision sort, so it’s sorting quality and making choices for us so packers don’t have to make that decision and that makes them more efficient."

Peach Vision 3 has helped Family Tree Farms packing house to significantly improve its ability to correctly sort its peaches.

We can say that the packing houses that operate with Peach Vision 3 have a better chance to create a relationship of full trust with their Customers and Family Tree Farms is the real evidence of all this.

"My dad, David Jackson – stated Daniel – started the relationship with UNITEC and I continued that relationship and I want my next generations, my three sons and my three daughters to be able to continue the relationship with them down the road so that they can look back and be proud of producing a blueberry that is a great experience for not only eating but also eye appealing […]: a healthy product that Unitec helped us get to the market."

The whole family of Family Tree Farms is proud of its product and the UNITEC Team is equally proud to have helped improve their process.

UNITEC goal is to truly be at the side of fruit and vegetable operators.

UNITEC thanks Family Tree Farms for the special Trust!