Fruit Logistica has its on years and its off years, but 2017 was vintage. Despite strikes at the airport on the first day it was the most vibrant and packed show for several years – for those that don’t know the Berlin Messe its about three Birmingham NECs stacked on top of each other. Unsurprisingly an average day at the show will take you well in excess of the recommended 10,000 steps so being there will do you good from a business perspective and also a physical one!

The focus of this year’s report is very much the grading and storing of top fruit with one of the first stands visited being that of the recently rebranded Storage Control Systems Ltd (SCS), formerly the CA division of the ICA group. Managing director of SCS David Bishop has known and worked with the company’s owner, Jim Schaffer, for most of his career and many of the excellent pieces of kit that British CA stores depend upon have come from this partnership. SCS makes analyser systems and distributes, adapts or sells them as components in other systems in the North American market, plus Canada and Mexico.

The business produces gas analysers and CA equipment, nitrogen generators, CO2 scrubbers temp control systems and all associated components. Both Jim and David view this new business as a natural progression of their long term collaboration.
In the US the company builds stores from the ground up. It responds to the needs of other multi-generational family businesses in the fruit sector, delivering the latest technology and taking the sector forward. Safepod is one such joint venture that is benefitting the industry both sides of the pond. The Labpod series for research and development delivers data to three decimal places for precision results, with respiration levels at new low levels. This delivers great energy efficiency and quality fruit.
Many of David’s team have made the transition into SCS, and you can still ring up and speak to Trevor Underdown, UK sales and service manager who will be looking after the equipment installed over preceding decades.

A European partner of the SCS team are Van Amerongen, not a company that often works in the UK but they are eager and willing to come over and quote! Their stand was a representation of all the work they have completed across the globe, 150 chambers of CA per year plus cold and refrigerated chambers and warehousing. The team has the capability to advise growers on the structure of the housing building to maximise the store capacity, ensuring efficiency in the storage space and ergonomic working spaces. The largest stores they build are 400t, the smallest 120t which means they can facilitate storage for most operations, they also work with local providers who provide the refrigeration and CA tech for them.

New to Berlin this year were the team from Remoon who are one of the emerging national high-tech innovation enterprises in China, specialists in post harvest technology for fruit and vegetables they were showcasing their new grader at the show this year. The business has all the core technologies in house for the manufacturer of grading systems and their grader ticked every box with the growers coming onto the stand – weight, diameter, colour, density, shape and external blemish and non-destructive internal quality for Brix, acidity and pressure. By the end of 2016 Remoon will have delivered more than 600 sorting lines and retained their number one position in the Chinese market. They are entering the European market at a very competitive price; with cheaper build costs and all prefabrication in-house, one European salesman was heard muttering about the 40% saving Remoon could offer, delivered…

2015 saw their first exports to Turkey and they were seeking a UK agent at the show, we will be seeing more of Remoon.

Now if you follow South East Farmer on Facebook you will have seen the short video showing Greefa’s concept intelligent robotic auto packer, it’s an impressive piece of equipment, packing an apple with the coloured side up, stalks pointing the same way, scanning the packing materials for defects at a rate of one fruit per second. With such great presentation to consumers and a 100% PLU application rate this is good for the future of lines that are presented loose – though it will have to be significantly faster. You will be able to see the robotic packer in action at the National Fruit Show this October.

Perhaps one for the stone and soft fruit reader, the Aircoolbox might be a good bit of kit for you. Developed by the ex-manager of BA’s global perishable divisions this is a collapsible chiller box, pallet mounted that is trackable, temperature recording and capable of delivering your fruit in perfect condition. The idea came from the frustrations of sensitive products being left on the runway and spoiling in the extremes of heat. The accepted 5% loss built into every contract was just excessive. The Aircoolbox can be cooled with re-usable cold packs, the whole system has a predicted life of 20 years as all elements can be replaced, the system can be collapsed for return too. The system addresses the concerns around a sustainable supply chain, reducing landfill and correct product handling. Potentially there is a longer shelf life of +1 day thus reducing waste in store. The containers are made of high density polythene, with a polyeurethane filler in 40mm thick walls. 73 kg in weight palletised, with both fork configurations built in, it is designed for air freight, with six on a PMC, will fit six to a PAG (PMC/PAG = aircraft pallets for cargo) they collapse to a third of the size and stack three high for return.

One stand that stood out for me was Tecno Frutta, There is a lot of discussion about good avenues for fruit that doesn’t make the class one spec – nothing wrong with the flavour but not so lovely on the outside. I’m a big fan of Nim’s crisps and discovered that the Tecno team have provided the machinery that create these fantastic products. Dried fruit and vegetables are very versatile products – from the shreds in your pot noodle to good apple and vegetable crisps it’s an excellent avenue for processing grade produce. There are machines for all sizes of businesses, from the compact manual loading system that dries three times 60 layers of product over a period of 4-8 hours (depending on the water content) through to the behemoth that is an automatic belt dryer that can dry for 24 hours in a cycle drying 2000kg/hr of product. They all require a boiler attached to provide steam/heat and the product processing kit at the front end but I saw several Brits carrying their literature, so I’m not the only one who saw the opportunity.