Saturday, July 15, 2006
Yesterday the packhouse started packing our kiwifruit crop. Since picking time it has been in covered picking bins in a coolstore at about 2 - 3 degrees centigrade. It is taken by forklift from the coolstore around to the bin tipping area where a big machine carefully tips it , bin after bin onto the beginning a long conveyor system. (They are round rollers moving it along.) At various points along the way it is graded either by a big photosensitive screen or by hand ( people ) as you can see in one photos. They are looking for defects; ( marks on the skin; nicks or cuts; deposits; wrong shape ;etc etc ) There are 32 separate categories of reject! From there they move along the conveyor and plop into separate cup things which later weigh the fruit to decide what size it is. The fruit are packed into about 8 different size categories. ( Jumbo, 25, 27, 30, 33, 36, 39,and 42 ) This tells you how many fruit in flat tray. 42 being the smaller fruit. The average size fruit is a 36 which weighs 100- 108 grams. Jumbos can be 150 grams.
You can see from one of the photos the packhouse is a very large building with many people working there. Graders ; packers; tray preparation; tray stackers, pallet strappers etc. Also the job I used to do at one time Quality Control. The fruit is packed into many different sizes and types of packaging from single layer trays that you see in a photo to great big free flow bins. Not every size gets exported to every country. You can see on the photo of the green tray ends some figures. This tells the fruit size; pack date and the growers personal #. Ours being 75791, so that is how you can trace the fruit back to which orchard it was grown in. Every fruit from New Zealand should have a Zespri sticker on it.They are put on automatically by the machine. ( sometimes ruthless sellers pull the stickers off and keep them and the Zespri trays, then fill them with inferior cheaper fruit from other countries.) There is not a lot we can do about that.
They haven't finished packing our fruit yet so we don't know for sure (yet) just how well our crop will have packed out. They will finish it on Monday. Maybe next time you buy Kiwis ( kiwifruit ) you might take a note of how it was presented ; what pack type was it in, did it have a grower number on it ? I'd love some fed back.