FRUIT & VEGETABLE PACKING MADE EASY
Fully featured post harvest processing for your busy packhouse, including quality, packing, inventory, storage, and sales & distribution software. Reduce post harvest waste, increase post harvest traceability and quality. Ideal for fruit, vegetable, seafood, perishable packers and processors with solutions for small, medium, and large fresh produce processing and handling businesses. Manage fresh produce block-chain, SENASA export documentation, import packing data from grading machines , Walmart EDI/ASN, and more...
AN EASY TO USE PACKING SOLUTION
Deliver new inventory efficiencies with farmsoft's fruit & vegetable packing solution designed to increase your visibility into the fresh produce being processed at your fresh produce facility.
Gain new insight into the profitability of each line / product range using the Profit Dashboard; analyze the profitability of each line after direct, batch, and transport costs have been deducted (transport is configurable for each client to allow accurate transport cost calculation).
Reduce fruit & vegetable shrinkage through better inventory management methods, including the analysis of ageing inventory, and alerts for expiring inventory.
Print and email documentation for fruit & vegetable shipments including Bill Of Lading, Invoice, Shipping Documents, and even labels for fruit & vegetable cartons, crates, bags, and bins.
Designed for medium to large sized fruit & vegetable packing and processing enterprises.
fruit and vegetable packing solution
fruit and vegetable packing solution
Fruit Packing Process
FarmSoft delivers your choice of simple or comprehensive fruit packing processes, for vegetables, grains, flower, coffee, hops, and other fresh produce. Easy batch based packing allows ad-hoc, and strict pack to order processes. Optionally implement FarmSoft Food Manufacturing for advanced value adding activities such as food manufacturing, while maintaining maximum food safety standards.
Batches become the central traceability point for all produce leaving the Packhouse. Easily create new batches and rapidly add materials and fresh produce. FarmSoft guides employees through the Fruit Packing Process and ensures the correct tasks are performed at the correct times. For value adding processes, you can optionally record your “good manufacturing process” or the “best practice” in FarmSoft. Employees will then be guided through the process, being reminded to perform the correct actions at the correct time (eg: a QC test, or adding an ingredient to a batch) while gathering the required information. This encourages a higher quality product, with higher quality, in turn maximizing business profitability.Many solutions do not support flexible fruit packing process management, and will not allow you to mix multiple varieties in one batch – FarmSoft handles this with ease. Many solutions can’t handle one batch containing produce from multiple sources (even multiple external suppliers), FarmSoft also handles this with ease as part of the normal fruit packing process.
Before deciding on what packaging to use, the grower or packing-house operator has to consider many factors to ensure that the cost does not exceed the benefits. The decision should be made after consultation with market operators, packaging suppliers, transport operators and post-harvest extension advisers. Factors to consider are: The proper time to remove a fruit from the tree or plant varies with each fruit and is governed by whether the product will be sold and consumed within hours, or stored for weeks, months, or even a year. Most fruits are harvested as close as possible to the time they are eaten. A few, of which banana and pear are outstanding examples, may be harvested while immature and still ripen satisfactorily. Orange, grapefruit, and some varieties of avocado may be “stored” on the tree for several months after they have attained good quality; this method cuts costs in handling and marketing.
Many fruits, including apple, pear, orange, lemon, and grapefruit, may drop from the tree during the last part of the maturation period. Preharvest drop of these fruits can be delayed by application of dilute sprays of growth-regulating substances like naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA). The chemical spray Alar [N-(dimethylamino) succinamic acid] applied four to six weeks after bloom on apple not only reduces fruit drop at harvest but increases red colour, firmness, and return bloom the next year, in addition to other advantages.
For the fresh market, most tree and bush fruits are still harvested by hand. For processing, drying, and occasionally for fresh market, mechanical motor-driven tree and bush shakers with appropriate catching belts, bins, pallets, and electric lifts reduce harvesting and handling labour. In years to come, machinery may make it possible to machine-harvest most fruits, with no more, and possibly less, damage than with hand picking.
The public has become increasingly particular about the appearance and quality of the product it buys. Hence, store managers and suppliers seek the best grades of fruits and nuts available, and growers make every effort to produce crops with attractive colour and smooth finish. Fruits are packed by government-controlled grades such as Fancy or Extra Fancy within given size limits and are so labelled on the carton or box, together with the source. Most fruits and nuts not meeting this standard of quality are processed or sent through channels using the lower grades and off sizes.
Small packages of plastic foam or wood pulp base holding four to six fruits covered and heat sealed with polyethylene plastic film are popular. These are delivered to stores in corrugated cartons holding a few dozen packages. Citrus, apples, and whole nuts or kernels also are packaged in polyethylene bags and delivered in cartons. Loose fruit may be sold in cell cartons and tray packs consisting of stacked form-fitting pulp trays in a “bushel size” box. Every effort is made to eliminate bruising.
the type of produce;
the present level of produce losses that occur during the marketing process;
the comparative costs of the present and improved packaging;
expected reduction of losses if packaging is improved (based on research results);
expected increase in income from reduction of losses;
is a standard type of package available? Cost-per-unit of packages declines considerably when they are bought on a large scale; specially designed packaging is costly;
will there be a regular supply of the new packaging?
is adequate storage and assembly space available for the protection of packaging materials before use?
is the change in packaging acceptable to the market?
If the introduction of new packaging does not result in increased returns, it cannot be economically feasible. Most experience shows that good produce well packaged has an advantage over produce poorly packaged, and the profits from it can cover the investment. Good packaging can therefore be held to be cost-effective in marketing.
There is no assurance that new packaging will by itself eliminate or greatly reduce post-harvest losses of fresh produce. Packaging is only one factor in the effort to improve handling at every step in the marketing process.
7. Packing houses and equipment
7.1 The need
Fresh produce sold through markets or by direct sales to users or agents must undergo some form of sorting and packaging. For the most part, the preparation of produce for market is carried out in a packing house, which may range from a simple, on-the-farm thatched shed to an automated regional packaging line handling large tonnages of a single commercial crop like citrus fruit or apples.
Whether it is simple or complex, the packing house provides a sheltered environment whose purpose is the assembly, sorting, selection and packaging of produce in an orderly manner with a minimum of delay and waste.
The size and design of the packing house, and the equipment and facilities required for it, will depend on the type and volume of produce, the market requirements, local infrastructure, its expected life span and its projected cost. In the planning stages, the factors to consider include:
operations to be carried out;
location of a suitable site;
design of the structure and building materials available;
equipment to be used;
Depending on the crop or crops being handled and the market being served, some or all of the following operations will be undertaken:
reception: off-loading, checking, recording;
special treatments, if required (cleaning or washing, fungicide spraying, selection, size-grading);
post-packaging treatments, if required (fumigation, cooling, storage);
assembly and dispatch.
To be avoided at all costs is the all too common state of confusion where, in a confined space on a floor covered in plant trash, produce is being received, sorted, cleaned, dipped in fungicide, packed and stacked for dispatch (see colour section, Figure 6).
Where several producers supply the packing house, each delivery should be:
labelled to identify its source and date of arrival;
checked for quantity or weight delivered;
sampled for quality, if necessary;
acknowledged by a receipt to the supplier.
The reception area should be organized so that produce moves through the packing operation in the order it is received: first in, first out.
7.2.1 Sorting. A preliminary sorting of produce should remove unmarketable pieces and foreign matter (plant debris, soil or stones) before the produce passes on to further operations. All discarded material should be quickly hauled away from the packing house or placed in closeable bins for later removal. This is because accumulations of decaying or infested waste in or near the packing house will contaminate produce destined for market.
7.2.2 Cleaning and washing. The removal of soil and stones mentioned above can be done by hand-picking or by sieving. Some types of produce can be washed, brushed, or cleaned with a soft cloth.
Cleaning produce by hand-polishing or machine-brushing can remove light soil contamination or dust from produce, especially fruit. This should be done with care since damage to the skin of fresh produce will promote early decay.
Washing is required to clean produce which has acquired latex stains from injuries caused during harvesting, notably in mangoes and bananas. It is important to note that washing should be carried out only when absolutely essential. If it is necessary to wash produce, a fungicide should normally be applied immediately afterwards.
Use only clean, running water for washing. The washing of produce in recirculated or stagnant water should be avoided because it can quickly become heavily contaminated with decay organisms, leading to heavy rotting of the washed produce.
There are no acceptable or effective antibacterial agents available for treating water used to wash fresh produce. Hypochlorites or chlorine gas may be added to washing water used for commercial treatment of some products, but its use in recirculated or stagnant water cannot be recommended for small-scale washing operations because it is quickly inactivated by organic material such as plant debris in the water. The monitoring of the chlorine concentration in the wash water and its replenishment are difficult to achieve and, in any case, chlorine is of only limited effectiveness against decay.
Washed produce which is to be treated with fungicide should first be drained after washing in order to reduce the danger that residual wash water will dilute the fungicide below its effective concentration. When washing is not to be followed by fungicide treatment, the washed produce should be spread out in a single layer on raised racks of mesh or slats, in the shade but exposed to good ventilation to aid rapid drying (Figure 7.1).
7.2.3 Fungicide treatment. Decay caused by moulds or bacteria is a major cause of loss of fresh produce during marketing. Infection may occur before or after harvest, either through injuries or by direct penetration of the intact skin of produce. Pre-harvest infections often lie dormant until after harvest, especially in fruit, where they may develop only as the fruit ripens. Mangoes, bananas, avocados and sweet peppers are subject to latent anthracnose infections (see colour section, Figure 2).
Post-harvest application of fungicide is usual on crops such as apples, bananas and citrus fruit which are to be stored for a long period or those which undergo long periods of transport to distant markets. As stated above, fungicides are normally applied only after the produce has been washed and drained.
Most fungicides used for post-harvest decay control are in the form of wettable powders or emulsifiable concentrations. They form suspensions in water, not solutions; this means that they settle out of suspension if the mixture is not constantly agitated during its application. Thus the concentration of fungicide applied to the crop will fall below the effective level if the suspension is not continuously stirred.
In small-scale packing operations, fungicide can be applied by:
Dipping. Treatment is carried out by hand, using a suspension of fungicide agitated by hand (Figure 7.2); wire-mesh baskets can be used to dip several small pieces at one time; after dipping, produce should be drained and dried in a shaded, airy place.
Spraying. This can be accomplished with a hand-operated knapsack sprayer while produce is still in trays or racks after washing and drying produce should be sprayed completely and to the point of runoff (Figure 7.3).
Larger spraying operations may require a simple mechanized spray or drenching arrangement with a mechanical mixer for the fungicide. Produce passes through the spray or drenching in perforated trays perhaps while moving on a belt or roller conveyor (Figure 7.4).
Other methods of application, such as smokes, dusts or vapour, are used only by large-scale operations where produce is to be stored.
7.2.4 Ouality selection and size grading. Although produce will have been sorted on the farm or on its arrival at the packing house (Figure
7.5), there may be a further selection for quality and size immediately before it is packed. The scope of these operations depends on the market: will buyers be prepared to pay premium prices for quality-graded produce? Many urban customers are more demanding of quality than are rural customers.
Selection and grading in a small packing house are best done by human eye and by hand, assisted by sizing rings or gauges (Figure 7.6).
7.2.5 Waxing. The application of wax or similar coating to enhance appearance and limit water loss from produce requires specialized equipment and has little relevance to small-scale packing.
Figure 7.3 Spraying produce using hand-operated knapsack pump must continue to stage of run-off These bananas will dry in perforated tray
7.2.6 Packaging. Packaging in small-scale operations means the filling of marketing containers by hand (Chapter 6). Machines are used to pack durable produce like potatoes and apples in big packing houses, but they are expensive and not suitable for small volumes of different products. There are various methods of packing:
loose-fill jumble pack is used where there is no advantage to size-grading; weighing is necessary (Figure 7.7);
multilayer pattern pack has size-graded produce sold by count of the produce: citrus, apples, etc. (Figure 7.8);
multilayer size-graded pack used in mechanical packing has separator trays between layers; sold on per-box basis;
single-layer packs for high-value produce may have each piece wrapped in tissue or placed in a divider holding it alone (Figure 7.9); sold on per-box basis.
7.2.7 Special treatments after packing. Special post-packing treatments are applied to certain crops, but this is more common in large-scale operations for urban and export markets. The principal treatments are:
The treatment is to control insect pests, such as fruit fly. It is a compulsory requirement for the importation of produce into many countries and requires specialized equipment and skilled operators.
Initiation of fruit ripening
This takes several days and requires treatment of the packed fruit with ethylene gas in insulated, temperature-controlled stores. The costs are high and thus limited to large operations.
Degreening of citrus fruit
Citrus fruits grown in the tropics will remain green when ripe unless subjected to low night temperatures. They will, however, develop their normal natural colour if artificially degreened by an ethylene treatment like that initiating ripening; it is not often done in small packing houses.
Figure 7.5 Sorting and packing stand is simply made for small-scale operations and gets work off the floor Incoming produce goes into the sorting bin, then into the packing bin and finally into containers held on shelf (Adapted from Improvement of post-harvest fresh fruits and vegetables handling, FAO/AFMA, 1986)
Figure 7.6 Sizing rings are used for grading round produce. The hand-held model (a) comes in various sizes. The multi-size model (b) can be fixed to a packing stand
7.2.8 Assembly of packed produce for dispatch. Time is an important factor in the marketing of fresh produce; delays add to losses. Once produce has been packed, it should be dispatched to market as soon as possible. Therefore the packing-house management should give high priority to transportation arrangements.
In small-scale operations, however, it may take time to assemble a full load; so when packed produce takes time to accumulate, every effort must be made to prevent its deterioration. Attention must be given to the following:
packed containers must be protected from the sun and rain; heat and water cause rapid deterioration of produce and seriously weaken cardboard boxes;
packed boxes must be handled carefully during stacking in order to avoid damaging the contents; damage to produce promotes water loss and decay;
packed containers awaiting transport must be stacked so as to get ventilation; overheating leads to rapid deterioration.
Losses of fresh produce during packing operations can be minimized if produce is:
kept as cool as possible;
protected from injury;
kept moving quickly to market.
Fruit Packing Process Management:
Define packing processes, employees are guided through the process every time they pack a selected item
Create unlimited batches, with inputs such as fresh produce, packing materials, and any other inventory
Optional automatic batch creation triggered by scanning raw produce, automatically creates another batch when the origin of scanned produce changes
Full traceability of all batch inputs
Product processed in a batch can be re-used in another (or unlimited) batches
Batch progress management
Assign clients to a batch
Assign multiple Sales Order Items to a batch, creating batch work orders & instructions
Assign managers, and inventory managers to batches
Mix unlimited sources of produce (ie: from your farm, external suppliers, co-operative growers) into one batch whilst maintaining traceability
Mix unlimited varieties (and even different produce types, eg: leafy lettuce and spinach to make a salad mix) in one batch whilst maintaining full traceability
Easy to access based reporting, analysis and KPI’s
Bill/Invoice co-operative customers and packing customers for packing services on a batch by batch basis
Assign labor & materials to batch costs
Report on batch costs
Download the FarmSoft Packhouse Software brochure or watch the fruit packing video.
Contact your nearest FarmSoft consultant to discover how you can increase quality and profit today.
Reference: fresh produce storage cool room cold storage cold store traceability fruit and vegetable.