Key considerations when selecting a blueberry sorting and packing solution

maszyny do sortowania i pakowania borówki

Nowadays, when we have access to many suppliers of machines and equipment for sorting and packing blueberries, producers and growers find it difficult to answer basic questions related to the blueberry production process. Sometimes they don’t realize how many aspects they have to consider when choosing the best solution for them. In order to clarify some doubts and make the decision easier, we have prepared 5 key aspects that will help manufacturers understand the multidimensionality of a solution tailored to their needs.

1. Expected capacity for the upcoming season and production forecast for the next 3-6 years? What capacity of the solution do you need today and in the future?

When thinking about investing in a blueberry packing and sorting line, you need to think about your production capacity for the coming years. How does your production look now compared to what it will look like in the future? To answer this question, it is necessary to analyse the production forecast, including the characteristics of specific varieties and the expected daily harvest. The final solution should respond to current and anticipated demand, taking into account market trends and future projections.

2. What quality do your customers expect? Is your fruit of the required size and quality, i.e. firmness, colour, etc.?

Quality is one of the key aspects of maintaining a competitive advantage, but there are different definitions of quality recognised by customers. With the variety of blueberry sorting solutions on the market – from conventional to optical sorting – it is important to understand your market and choose a solution that provides a quick return on investment. The main questions are: What is the required shelf life and the tolerance range for size, colour and softness.

3. Do you sell fruit from your own plantation or do you buy from other suppliers?

Buying fruit from other growers does not mean that you will always get good quality. Aligning production with current market trends is key when implementing automation into your packhouse. Even if the quality of imported fruit is not 100% satisfactory, the ability to sort fruit by colour or softness will help you get rid of fruit that will definitely not meet your customers’ expectations.

4. How do you harvest fruit on your plantation: mechanically or by hand?

Solutions proposed by equipment suppliers should be adapted to the type of harvest and the way of working on the plantation. Harvesting by hand usually means a lower yield than mechanical harvesting. It also affects the quality and accuracy in fruit harvesting. A well-tailored sorting solution can fix mistakes made during harvesting. For example, using cleaning equipment to separate berries from leaves and sticks that may accidentally be picked with the fruit can save time and money.

5. What kind of packaging do you use?

Before you think about automating your production line, you need to keep in mind the different packaging formats that are used to pack blueberries. A well-designed packing line should be flexible, allowing as many packaging formats as possible to be used.

When choosing a supplier to automate your production line, make sure they provide a complete solution, not just a single machine or device. It is much more convenient to enter into cooperation with one supplier – one point of contact, which means that one Project Manager will be responsible for the project of the whole line, and not only for its part. Producers and growers make money in 2-3 months out of the entire year, so the company should provide a quick service response and access to spare parts in case of an emergency. We understand the importance of service and availability during the blueberry season, so our advice to growers and producers is this: invest your money in a company that you can trust and that understands your business.


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