South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and Lenswood Apples Chairman Iain Evans

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill with Lenswood Apples chairman Iain Evans

Adelaide Hills-based Lenswood Apples has installed its A$5m state-of-the-art MAF Roda apple pre-sizer that will be a key element to growing its apple sales in Australia and export markets.

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill launched the facility before a host of dignitaries, local growers and Lenswood Apples board members and staff on 10 August.

The South Australian government’s Regional Development Fund contributed A$850,000 towards the project.

“Our business has been expanding rapidly to meet new orders from around Australia and the world,” said Lenswood Apples CEO James Walters. “With this new pre-sizer that uses digital and optical technology to gently sort, grade and pack fruit, we will more than double our processing capacity from 9 to 25 tonnes per hour, while we speed packing production and maximise quality and consistency in packing.

“Orders will continue to grow as we maintain our competitive edge in this way.”

This improved productivity and efficiency will enable Lenswood Apples to better respond to diverse customer needs, particularly in export markets, he says.

“The cooperative has a long tradition of investing in research, innovation, people and infrastructure to grow our business and that of our 25 grower shareholders that produce 20,000 tonnes of apples annually,” said Lenswood Apples chairman Iain Evans. “Lenswood Apples is about quality and growth and we embrace change and opportunity.”

The cooperative was established in 1933, exporting its first apples in 1939. These days, it handles 70 per cent of South Australia’s apples, or around 10 per cent of the total Australian crop.