The production of soft fruits such a blueberries, cherries, and strawberries has seen consistently high growth in the last few years, with China accounting for much of the increase, as well as consumers realising the multitude of health benefits associated with the food group. There are many difficulties faced by growers and packers in the production of soft fruits. For example, soft fruits can be easily damaged during the weighing and packing process. Also, very short growing seasons mean production must run as efficiently as possible in order to meet the increasing levels of demand.
Soft fruit growers and packers need to achieve a healthy balance between packing quickly and giving away as little of the fruit as possible. The seasonal nature of soft fruits combined with high prices mean it is of upmost importance that giveaway is kept to a minimum to ensure maximum profits from a short growing season. MARCO’s installations for soft fruit packing operations have seen productivity increases of 30% as well as overpack levels consistently under 1%.
MARCO’s Yield Control Module (YCM) and Quality Control Module (QCM) in particular have provided great benefits to our clients’ soft fruit packing operations. YCM has two main functions; to reduce giveaway and increase packing speed. With a luxury, expensive product such a cherries the former is vitally important as reducing overpack enables the creation of more punnets from the same volume of fruit. While QCM allows managers to easily perform regular quality checks through an automated system. This ensures that as packing speeds are increased the overall quality and pack presentation is maintained, if not improved.
All MARCO installations are assigned a projected ‘return on investment period’, this ensures all improvements are fully justified financially. For a typical soft fruit installation, MARCO would expect an average return on the investment within one growing season, meaning MARCO’s clients see rapid results that quickly turn into increased profits.