Lenswood Apples, in the Adelaide Hills, recently held the official commissioning of its new state of the art apple pre-sizer.
The pre-sizer is a combination of about $5 million in investment and three years of planning and work, and was made possible with support from the South Australian government through its Regional Development Fund.
Lenswood Cold Stores Co-operative board chairman Iain Evans said the new pre-sizer cleaned, sorted and packed fruit faster, more gently and efficiently, and with less wastage than had been possible before.
“We are excited by our vast increase in capacity, going from washing and grading nine tonnes per hour to more than 25 tonnes per hour,” Mr Evans said.
“To accomplish this, it first washes and dries the fruit. It then photographs each piece of fruit in colour and infra-red – 100 times per piece – then weighs and analyses the fruit for internal defects – even unmarked fruit that looks perfect on the outside but has an internal defect, is picked out.
“Fruit is graded and collected for juicing or processing, or for various retail channels.
“The fruit is handled in water and our bins are refilled in our hydro-fillers to maintain the integrity of our product and to ensure consumer satisfaction.”
Mr Evans said the accuracy of the technology allowed more product lines to be carried. with 34 different kinds of fruit grades in the machine at any one time.
He said through the company’s members and stakeholders it was developing or producing more than 15 varieties of fruit, with many yet to be seen at market.
Lenswood exports to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK and handles about 20,000 tonnes of fresh apples a year.
It has 750 South Australian hectares under orchard and substantial interstate orchards in Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland.
The opening was attended by the South Australian premier Jay Weatherill, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie; Member for Kavel Mark Goldsworthy; Adelaide Hills Council mayor Bill Spragg; Mt Barker Council mayor Ann Ferguson as well as Lenswood board members Robert Green, Ashley Green, Ben Filsell, John Vickers, Mark Joyce, Michael Stafford, Fergus McLachlan; former chairman Cam Stafford, chairman Iain Evans, and chief executive James Walters.