Serbian fresh produce company Delta Agrar has installed a new sorting and grading line for apples at its packing plant in Čelarevu, around 30km west of Novi Sad in the region of Podunavlje.
As reported in the Večernje Novosti newspaper, the new Maf Roda line cost around €2m to install and is part of an overall €4m investment programme designed to boost the company’s competitiveness on international markets.
Using infrared technology, the system will enable the group to process a large volume of fruit and grade it according to its customers’ requirements in terms of diameter, colour, weight and quality.
As a non-EU country, Serbia has seen a massive rise in demand for its fruit from customers in Russia, which imposed a ban on all fruit and vegetables from the EU back in August 2014.
With more of its apples in particular going for export, this has also contributed to a sharp increase in imports, notably from Poland.
Around 80 per cent of this year’s apple crop has now been harvested in Podunavlje, known as the Danube region, where Delta Agrar’s own orchard is spread over 400ha.
“We expect to produce more than 20,000 tonnes of the finest apples from our orchard and from sub-contracted orchards,” regional director Nikola Milićević told the newspaper. “Our yield per hectare has already reached 70 tonnes, so acquiring one of the most modern grading lines represents a logical continuation in terms of investment.”