BIBLIOTECA HORTICULTURA

BIBLIOTECA HORTICULTURA

Labels have to guarantee that there are no internal problems and that flavour is good

Labels have to guarantee that there are no internal problems and that flavour is good

Source FreshPlaza

On the one hand, labels are becoming increasingly important, but on the other, consumers are becoming more and more critical. Because of this, it’s becoming more important to fulfil the promises on the labels. One bad apple no longer contaminates an entire barrel, but a six-pack. “One of six is bad in that case, and consumers respond to that more intensely,” says Chris Komatas of Compac, part of TOMRA Sorting Food. The company renewed a technology to sort for internal quality.

This technology can be summed up in three letters: NIR, but a complex process is hidden behind these letters. Although optical sorting focuses on the external quality of the fruit, the NIR technology looks underneath the skill. Using light, the internal quality of the fruit is measured. The light breaking up tells us something about the internal quality. The sorting machines are equipped with sensors and software that sort the fruit based on that information. “Sorting fruit is our speciality. For the internal quality, we developed Inspectra2, which is more accurate and easier to use than the older version,” Chris explains. The Inspectra2 has a maximum capacity of ten lines and ten pieces of fruit per second, but it can also be built for one line. “We adjust the machine to the number of input belts.”

High consumer expectation
“The internal quality of the fruit is becoming increasingly important, because the expectations of consumers is getting higher and higher,” Chris says. “Labels have to guarantee that there are no internal problems and that flavour is good, because that’s how far the sorting technology has come. In the space of a second in which the fruit comes under the sorter’s light, brix is measured as well, and that means we’re actually sorting for flavour,” he confirms.

Firmness of the fruit is also measured, which can decide the storability of the fruit. “Based on the sorting, traders know whether the fruit can be stored or whether it should be marketed sooner.” Although the technology is used to sort premium fruit, sorting also offers chances for batches that seem unsellable at first glance. Because of this, the sorting technology isn’t just an option for large companies or premium brands. “Sorting for internal quality can make a difference between an unsellable batch and a sellable one. I therefore also see advantages for growers who have a partly damaged or overripe harvest.” After sorting, part of the harvest can often be marketed after all.