DNE World Fruit Sales, Fort Pierce, Fla., plans to complete a major upgrade of its bagging operations before the start of the summer citrus season.

South African sales manager Tom Cowan said the company added new Daurmar bagging equipment to its lines at World Pack in Gloucester City, N.J.; Sun Ag Packinghouse in Fellsmere, Fla.; and KPAC in Long Beach, Calif.

He said May 1 that the improvements, which will increase the company’s overall bagging capacity by 15%, were expected to be completed by May 20.

That timing coincides with the company’s sizeable South African citrus deal, which includes clementines, navels, cara caras, midknight oranges and mandarins.

The harvest of South African clementines being shipped to the U.S. began in late April, and the first arrivals are expected in late May or early June, Cowan said.

The majority of South African citrus shipped to the U.S. arrives either via containers in Newark, N.J., or in break-bulk vessels in Gloucester City.

Cowan said most of the product is shipped from South Africa in bulk cartons and packed into consumer-size bags after arrival.

Cowan said the upgraded bagging equipment not only improved capacity but also allows for more packaging options on each machine.

“We can pack clementines or navels in either the d-wrap ribbon bags or the combo plastic/net bags, whichever the customer requests,” Cowan said.

“The new equipment will allow us to increase the maximum number of bags packed in a day.”

Cowan said that at peak production times, DNE had done some hand bagging off grading boards in the past. That practice will no longer be necessary.

“We can put more bags out per hour,” he said.

“The machines are very accurate so the amount that goes into the bag is always above the net weight. If you have a 3-pound clementine bag, we put in 3½ pounds so that if there is shrink you still don’t have underweight bags when they get to the consumer.”