Burt, N.Y.-based Niagara Fresh Fruit’s new Compac line covers 16,000 square feet and has the capacity to process 600 bushels of apples per hour, said account representative Richard Hite.
“We should be able to more than double our capacity,” Hite said. “With our old line, we were lucky to do 200 to 300 bushels.”
Because of rapid company growth in recent years, Hite said, Niagara Fresh Fruit was running its old line six or seven days a week for 12 to 14 hours a day.
“Our people just can’t take that,” he said.
With the new Compac line, which should be up and running Sept. 1, the company hopes to run five days a week for eight or nine hours a day.
In the past five years, Niagara Fresh Fruit has planted more than 200,000 new trees, Hite said. The company has controlled atmosphere capacity for 90,000 bushels on site, in addition to off-site controlled atmosphere storage.
The new line can sort by color, size and other characteristics and detect internal defects, Hite said. With the new line, Niagara Fresh Fruit hopes to appeal to more retailers.
“There were several retailers we didn’t do business with before,” he said. “Now we can pack the net Vexar bags that they want. It opens up opportunities in the market for us.”