A new packing line at Exeter, Calif.-based Venida Packing Co. is expected to move plums and kiwifruit out the door more than twice as fast.
The line became operational May 20 after Valley PackLine Solutions, Reedley, Calif., finished installation of a system using a 12-lane Compac sizer — the manufacturer’s largest.
“Previously they were running about 25 bins an hour,” Valley PackLine sales engineer David Mills said. “Now they’re up to 54. The majority of the line is stainless steel, at least as far as the fruit contact plates. It has multiple fruit-washing capabilities.”
To accommodate it, in January the company began an overhaul of an existing 25,000 square-foot site, said Chris Tantau, operations manager at Venida Packing.
“We gutted our whole facility and started over,” Tantau said. “We had them design all new equipment to increase our efficiency, but also to meet food safety and modernized produce traceability requirements. It’s doubling our per-hour throughput.”
Venida Packing handles up to 12% of California plum industry volume, and about 2 million of the state’s anticipated 9 million trays of kiwifruit — or about 22% of the state’s volume — Tantau said. The company packs smaller volumes of persimmons.
“The new line sizes more accurately and handles fruit gentler,” Tantau said. “We needed to offset labor and health care cost increases by packing more efficiently.”
The company previously used an eight-lane sizer. Mezzanines were added to the building for the new setup, Mills said.
“It’s a pretty effective system,” he said. “Compac is taking the majority of the market share now and I think they’re going to continue to do so.”
Kiwifruit volume has been on the rise at Venida Packing. “We’re owned by a cooperative of five main growers,” Tantau said. “It’s acreage they already had that’s been coming into production in the last couple years.”