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News and insight for North America's fresh produce buyers
Carl Collen

BY CARL COLLEN

FirstFruits expands packing facilities

Washington state-based group invests in new robotic packing technology to improve efficiency

FirstFruits expands packing facilities

The automated palletising system

Image: FirstFruits video

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FirstFruits Marketing of Washington has revealed that it recently completed the installation of a brand new packing line and automated palletising system at its flagship facility at Broetje Orchards.

The group, a leader in organic apples and an exclusive distributor of the Opal apple, said that the new additions would improve the handling of fruit to ensure apples arrive in high-quality condition to assist in maintaining a longer shelf life at retail.

The new systems also include improvements to the cold chain process to keep apples chilled from harvest to arrival.

“Three packing lines combined with an automated palletising system makes us more efficient and capable of meeting the needs of our diverse customer base,” said Chuck Zeutenhorst, general manager of FirstFruits of Washington. “And with a new dedicated line for organics, we have the ability to provide the right varietal mix when our retail partners need it.”

The new facility includes upgrades to a variety of elements to improve both the packaging process and the work environment for the group's employees.

“We designed a state-of-the-art packing facility with features that benefit both apples and people,” said Jim Hazen, general manager of Broetje Orchards. “Our new facility addresses the latest in food safety concerns and offers a clean-room drop ceiling, enhanced lighting and an air circulation system that offers a comfortable work environment all year long.”

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