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Fruit & vegetable packing
Packhouse job management
Packhouse job management
From simple packhouse job management of batches, through to managing fresh produce dispatch jobs and orders – FarmSoft delivers rapidly, and accurately for pack shed management. Comprehensive tools manage every job in the packhouse and pack shed – from the moment fresh produce is ordered or delivered, through storage, sorting, grading, packing, processing, warehousing, and sales dispatch and marketing.
FarmSoft provides easy management of packhouse jobs, and pack shed jobs. Easily manage packing labor and all employee jobs with batch based packing management. Instruct multiple pack sheds on their daily packing jobs – using the FarmSoft work order system. Ensure orders are filled accurately and all employees are performing their packhouse jobs at the correct time, AND recording all the correct data in the performance of their jobs.Record customer orders using the Sales Order management modules, even record complex sales contracts and monitor the progress of orders being packed against available fresh produce. Plan harvests and packing jobs using crop harvest data and customer orders. Easily capture the cost of pack shed employment and pack shed jobs for employee cost reporting and export to financial and payroll packages.
Easily manage fresh produce dispatch jobs with pick sheets, on screen job building, rapid printing of paperwork (FarmSoft will present the paperwork required for each different customers dispatch), manage dispatch employees, and manage dispatch processes such as temperate gathering, quality control checks, and final load outs for transport companies.
FarmSoft Packhouse Job Management Software .
Managing packhouse and pack shed employees can be a challenge. FarmSoft understands that employees are sometimes transient, and unreliable. FarmSoft makes it easy to track pack shed work, jobs, and labor. Pack shed labor can be assigned to specific batches, allowing comprehensive reporting of batch costs including labor, packing materials, and batch ingredients to give an accurate figure that represents the true cost per unit of finished product from each batch. Packhouse and pack shed labor can be charged to farms (if you are packing on their behalf), or even charged to customers (special packing processes where you are required to pack using potentially their packing materials and possibly client owned produce or inventory).Contact your nearest FarmSoft consultant now to discuss packhouse job management opportunities for your pack shed or fruit and vegetable wholesaling operation.
Reference: Less fresh produce waste more traceability Accurate inventory shipping Apple packing, pear packing, citrus packing.
“It has been a busy time both operationally and strategically for the company"
Seeka has started the year will with real momentum as it continues its growth strategy. Having completed a successful NZD$50m capital raise late in 2018, the Company announced the acquisition of Aongatete Coolstores Limited in early March 2019 for NZD$25m.
“It has been a busy time both operationally and strategically for the company with the drive to become New Zealand’s premier produce company,” said Michael Franks, CEO. “We have throughout the first quarter of 2019 been harvesting plums, pears and nashi in Australia, with Australian Hayward kiwifruit about to commence. It’s been a dry growing season in Australia, while yields and size are down, fruit quality and taste has been exceptional.”
The New Zealand kiwifruit harvest started a week ago with Seeka harvesting approximately 1.5m trays of SunGold by 19 March around 24% of the New Zealand industry volumes processed at that point. At the same time the company has purchased and is integrating Aongatete into the production mix and delivering the combined benefits to all growers.
The New Zealand kiwifruit growing season has been unusual due to a very dry period after Christmas which has slowed the growing season, and brought the SunGold harvest early.
Seeka has undertaken significant capital works building new packhouses and packing machines in preparation for increased volumes and as part of its heartland growth strategy. In 2018 Seeka purchased the KeriKeri kiwifruit related orchards and post-harvest business from T&G Global. Subsequently Seeka has been in the process of successfully selling those orchards with a term supply to Seeka, and has embarked on a major upgrade to the packing facility. A new 90,000 square foot packhouse has been built along with a new Compacc 6 lane grader with NIR technology. The packhouse facility was opened and ready on time and when completed with the coolstore construction will cost over NZD$20m.
Franks said he was delighted with the build, “The team has done a fantastic job in getting it ready for the season. This is a major investment in the region, probably the largest single investment made there in decades.”
A continuing concern for the Industry and Seeka was the continuing shortage of labour. “We are lucky that the Government has recognised this and increased our quota of overseas workers allowed under the RSE scheme. While these were appreciated more will be needed. The early start of the kiwifruit season had overlapped with the continuing apple season in the Hawkes Bay. We are short of workers full stop and are going to need a massive increase if we are to run all the sheds at capacity and get the fruit into store at its optimum maturity.”
Seeka had continued to innovate to hire more New Zealand workers. In the latest venture Seeka had joined with Ngati Haua of Whaharoa to transport people from Whaharoa to its Huka Pak site at Mount Maunganui. This latest venture complimented other initiatives where Seeka transports workers from up to 1.5 hours drive away from Murupara and Rotorua.
“People can earn fantastic money in the kiwifruit industry, but we simply need more people to pay it to,” said Franks.
For now the company is well set as it continues the New Zealand SunGold harvest, heads to the Hayward harvest in both Australia and New Zealand.
Kiwifruit packhouses in lockdown change ways of working
Fully operational packhouses and social distancing aren't exactly easy bedfellows. But ripening kiwifruit couldn't wait for the Covid-19 pandemic to be over, and packhouses had to keep working through alert levels 4 and 3. And they have had to make huge changes to be able to do that.
Trevelyan's managing director James Trevelyan says the packhouse on No 1 Rd was almost totally reconfigured in a very short time as New Zealand moved between alert levels. ''The team's done a fantastic job of reconfiguring the site so, for instance, the smoke room used to take 200 people, now it only takes 40.''
The temperature of everyone coming on-site is taken, all the washing systems and flow of people have changed and shifts have been staggered. ''It's all very organised, where they wash their hands and dry their hands, there is a one directional flow,'' he says.
''People don't cross each other's paths, we've punched a hole through the side of the packhouse and made another way out so we only have people coming in one door and people going out in totally separate areas so there's this big loop road going on.''
To read the full article by NZ Herald, please click here.
NZ Kiwifruit company hitting back at employment claim
Trevelyan’s Pack and Cool is hitting back at claims levelled against the wider kiwifruit industry that seasonal workers are being exploited. They released a detailed report which shows how they’re caring for their employees, community and environment while still generating great returns for their growers.
There is currently much attention for packhouse pay and conditions amid a seasonal labour shortage, after a senior industry manager told Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint programme that kiwifruit packing was undesirable work.
But Trevelyan’s Executive Director, Alister Hawkey, says the industry has been mis-represented and points to evidence contained in Trevelyan’s fourth annual Sustainability Report which the company has just released today. “The report is an in-depth look at our economic, social and environmental performance in 2017 and a huge part of that is detailing the steps we take to respect and look after our people.”
Healthy eating is also a priority and Trevelyan’s have introduced a nutritious salad and vegetable bar at their on-site café to benefit employees, and regularly organise fun run/walks and wellness information sessions to help care for staff.
Trevelyan’s annual staff satisfaction survey showed 98 percent of permanent staff reported either medium or high job satisfaction – a trend that has been steadily rising over the past four years.
“The recent media reports have presented a very narrow view of the kiwifruit industry,” Alister says. “The fact is, our packhouses are a nice place to work. The staff facilities are excellent, and we have a great café which is a wonderful place to have a break and interact with others. Our staff have a great time here and many don’t want the packing season to come to an end.”
"Where are we going to find workers from for our industry?"
It’s difficult to know where to begin with latest policy by the Home Office to effectively put a block on low-skilled labour from Europe. Let’s start with the hypocrisy of it. The Migration Advisory Committee (a public body that advises government on migration issues sponsored by the Home Office) wrote a report in 2018 on the impact of European Economic Area migration in the UK. I won’t bore you with all the details but in summary:
- No evidence to suggest that EU migrants drive down wages or take British jobs. No drop-off in training or selection of British workers
- Productivity – EU migrants tend to be very productive – they work harder than British workers
- Tax & Benefits – in all, EU migrants pay in £2300 more each per year than they take out so they are not a drain on public resources. In total that adds up to £4.7bn into the coffers every year.
- Is there a public service burden?
- NHS – EU migrants are net contributors rather than takers. They tend to be young and healthy.
- Schools – EU migrants kids tend be high achievers and there is no evidence they’ve damaged the outcome of British kids
- Crime – no significant effects on crime rates
- Social Housing – tend to rent. Marginal evidence that EU migrants push up house prices.
So, EU migrants are a force for good? You would think so but the recommendations from the report were that we should allow greater access for high skilled workers and severely restrict access to low-skilled workers earning less than £30K/year. The Road Haulage Association called it “ignorant and elitist”.
I suppose we should at least be grateful that the government have lowered the threshold to £25,600 but the problem remains, where are we going to find workers from for our industry? I don’t accept the argument that we simply pay Brits more. Here’s a controversial statement for you:
“British workers are among the worst idlers in the World – too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”
Anyone who runs a packhouse or employs workers in agriculture will sympathise with that statement. We have an onion packhouse in Lincs. Standing on a cold, dusty production line picking off rotten onions – not the nicest job but someone has to do it. Our Eastern European percentage of the labour force floats between 90 and 100% – Brits simply do not want to do this kind of work. So, back to the statement above – never a truer word said in my opinion. But who said it? It’s from a book called Britannia Unchained written by five Conservative MPs including Dominic Raab the Foreign Secretary and Priti Patel the Home Secretary. You couldn’t make it up!
I was over in the States recently and labour was the hot topic there. Since Trump has restricted the flow of Mexican labour, pay rates have shot up to around $18/hour. But offering Americans more money isn’t the solution they tell me. Americans like Brits simply don’t want to do agricultural/packhouse work which has led to a shortage of labour and rising costs.
I think the inevitable medium to long-term impact of this is to further drive production abroad. We already import 67% of our fresh fruit & veg – a figure that I can only see increasing. Veg production in the UK is already at a stage where the UK grower is making negligible/ negative returns. Government policy like this will tip many growers into thinking “I’ve got better things to do with my time, land and money than to grow veg”. The irony of this is we have a government pushing for carbon neutrality while advocating a policy that will inevitably lead to an increase in imports.
What’s the solution? Robotics/mechanisation is the obvious one but it’s a slow burn. This problem is already upon us and about to get a shot in the arm from government policy in a matter of months, not years. I don’t think any amount of political lobbying will push the government to change its mind. Agriculture was around 6% of GDP post-war – we’re now around 0.6% which makes us insignificant. It’s noticeable that for the new points-based system crucial extra points are available for working in a sector with shortages which currently includes nursing, civil engineering, psychology and classical ballet dancing – absolutely no mention of agriculture. So I think we need to be realistic….accept it….and above all…..budget for it properly and charge customers for it accordingly. We need to reverse the tide and start pushing some inflation back into fresh produce. Let’s end on a brighter note – perhaps this is the excuse we’ve been looking for to push back and say “enough is enough!”.
For more information:
'Building food safety management capacity'
Growers and packers focus on food safety management individually because every packhouse system is different.
Flexibility in ensuring food safety through the application of practices within the context of business operations is important. To prevent contamination and maintain low contamination rates on fruit if foodborne pathogens enter packhouses, the crucial food safety controls of wash water sanitation, equipment cleaning, and personal hygiene must work every time. Appropriate control systems and their application in practice determine food safety outputs.
In these challenging times hygiene controls have become front and centre of our thinking, as they should. This has presented an opportunity for all tiers of a business to better understand the role food safety controls play in business sustainability and job security.
Food safety management is complex. Long and intricate supply chains and new product development combined with emerging pathogens and a seasonal workforce are surrounded by a consumer base seeking greater transparency and ethical stewardship.
Are your food safety controls and their management effective?
A packhouse diagnostic indicator tool, recently developed, provides a snapshot of strengths and weaknesses in food safety management, and, identifies where improvements can be made to strengthen your organisation’s food safety system. Using the diagnostic tool quality assurance staff can measure system performance, providing evidence of effective actions, awareness of shortcomings and potential risks, and a benchmark for continual improvements. This builds food safety management capacity by raising risk awareness and therefore strengthening the food safety culture.
To underpin the accuracy of the tool and inform further development of risk assessment tools for pome fruit, we are gathering additional data on the effects of different orchard and packhouse practices on microbial risk levels through a quick anonymous self-assessment survey.
We need to know what works best to control the foodborne pathogens Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in packhouses. Completing the survey will help us understand the relationship between controls used by industry and microbial food safety outputs.
Be part of a safer and sustainable horticulture industry
The survey asks 24 short questions about your current food safety control activities, microbial testing, and food safety performance indicators in the context of organisation and supply chain characteristics. It will only take 10 minutes to complete the survey and you will be helping inform a microbial model to assess and quantify risk through the apple supply chain.
To manage and mitigate microbial risks we must understand where they come from, how significant they are and what the optimum practices are for their control. Results of the survey feed into the diagnostic tool which in turn will allow the risk assessment model to address the risk factors in a working environment.
'Please complete the survey now to ensure apple food safety into the future.'
Tasmania: Centralised packhouse and marketing the answer for smaller growers?
Within every sector there are big commercial growers, middle sized growers and the small growers. Each of these will face their own challenges and see different benefits in how they produce and market their produce.
Jeff Webster at Styx River grows cherries on his property and works closely with Li Wung, who also has cherry orchards, to grow and market the cherries.
We caught up with Jeff a few weeks ago to see how the season was going.
"The markets are flat," explained Jeff. "The early fruit was late and the late fruit came early, resulting in big volumes on the market. Chinese New Year is later this year and there are also huge volumes, 1000 containers a week, from Chile going into China at the moment. They can produce much cheaper than we can and so can get by on a lower price, where as we need more just to break even."
Although there has been substantial investment in the orchards in recent years, Jeff said more is still needed to make them more efficient and cost effective.
"Our packshed is one of the older ones with older technology and is much more labour intensive than the modern packhouses. This means it costs us around 3 AUD per Kg more to pack cherries. The flat market is such a shame as this is the best fruit that we have had in the last 5 years. We did a heavy prune this year which reduced volumes but increased quality. But we just can't get the price for top quality fruit and there's nowhere for any lower quality fruit to go."
He goes on to say that what is needed is more investment in the sector, "Long time growers are selling properties to investors who don't necessarily know how to grow cherries and very few are sold to Australians any more. The banks are not keen to lend money these days either."
The cost of labour is so high that Jeff reckons that a new packhouse is essential, but it come in at around two million dollars which is a big investment. A more mechanised packhouse could reduce the number of workers from 40 to 9, which would be a great saving in labour costs. It has also been very difficult this season to find enough workers to do the work.
"A good solution would be a central packhouse where a number of growers could send the fruit. Centralised marketing would also be a great thing for the smaller grower, these days some buyers want 200 tonnes or more and the smaller growers are missing out on opportunities," according to Jeff.
Despite this he remains positive and will continue to expand production.