Since it started 50 years ago, Interko has installed more than 6,000 ripening rooms for bananas, avocados, mangoes, papayas and tomatoes. The Netherlands-based company now installs about 200 rooms a year. ( Interko )

Interko, a provider of fruit ripening rooms and cooling systems, is marking 50 years in business with a presentation at Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Chris Maat, Interko’s managing director/partner, will speak the afternoon of Feb. 8 on the Tech Stage about the logistical role of ripening in the fresh produce supply chain over the last half century, according to a news release.

The presentation will consider the challenges of getting different fruits from their source destinations to their markets with customized ripening processes.

“From optimizing airflow to accommodating various box designs and fine-tuning the subsequent logistics, I will explain how such challenges can be overcome thanks to the development of tailored and adaptable ripening rooms featuring state-of-the-art technology,” Maat said in the release.

Interko started out in 1968 as a local Dutch cooling technology provider, and now designs, manufactures and installs fruit ripening systems around the globe, installing around 200 ripening rooms each year, according to the release.

 

History

The company began when the Wageningen University and Research Centre asked 31-year-old aeronautical engineer Cornelius Bolkestein to develop cooling solutions for the Dutch horticultural industry.

Bolkestein started by designing cold storage coolers for apples and flower bulbs, giving Dutch growers the ability to maintain quality while waiting for higher market prices, according to the release.

In 1975 Interko designed and built a patented banana ripening room, attracting the attention of some of the biggest brands such as Chiquita and retailers such as Walmart.

Interko set up a factory in South Carolina in 1978.

“I saw the technical problem from a totally different perspective to others,” Bolkestein said in the release. “While they were counting the kilograms and from that calculating how much the product needed cooling down, I calculated how much air would be needed to do the job. That meant my coolers were more efficient than most others at the time.”

Interko next developed technology for other fruits such as mangoes, papayas, avocados and even pears, according to the release.

 
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