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Liam O’Callaghan


GP Graders technology cuts costs

Australian blueberry grower reports radical reduction in labour costs from trial of new produce grading camera

GP Graders technology cuts costs

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The implementation of GP Graders’ new AirJet Vision technology has produced a 60 per cent reduction in labour costs per tray for Australian berry grower Benning Blueberries, according to a joint statement from the two companies.

The New South Wales-based grower said the new produce grading camera has also improved export quality and created new revenue streams.

The technology, created by Australian-based manufacturer GP Graders, gives growers precise grading options, allowing them to sort fruit into 16 different kinds of quality.

The blueberries can be separated into grades of softness, so growers have more flexibility in which target markets they can sell to, GP Graders said. With these precise grading options, Benning is now able to select which blueberries are suited to export, which fruit is better for the domestic market and which product should go to freezing.  

Bob Benning, chief executive of Benning Blueberries, said the company had increased its production from 4,000 trays per day to 15,000 trays per day with export-ready products.

“We have the same amount of people working, however, we have moved them off the grading tables and into packing and quality control,” Benning said.

“We can now pack more product, our costs are going down, and we are delivering better quality produce and more volume than ever.”

The system will also help growers when it comes to new export opportunities. On a recent trip to meet Asian importers, Benning Blueberries learned more about the high expectations of quality within the market, including consistent size and firmness and a good colour.

“The representative we met with in China went through a process where he explained to us what we needed to do to succeed in exporting good quality blueberries in the market of China and Malaysia,” Benning said.

“Not everyone is after big, firm fruits as the market is quite complex. With this new grading system, we’ve got opportunities to target every single market rather than just targeting a particular market.”

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