South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has cut the ribbon on a $5m high-specification new packing line that will speed Adelaide Hills-based farmers cooperative Lenswood Apples into further international expansion.
The apple pre-sizer line installation has been supported by the Government of South Australia’s Regional Development Fund through Primary Industries and Regions SA, enabling the farmer-owned Lenswood Cold Stores Cooperative (Lenswood Apples) to source the machinery from global leader MAF Agrobotic, in France.
“We’re proud to have supported the installation of this world-leading equipment, through the State Government Regional development fund, and help Lenswood Apples diversify and expand into new premium markets overseas” said Mr Weatherill. “This fund helps drive economic growth and productivity and create new job opportunities for regional South Australians. It’s great to see leading South Australian businesses such as Lenswood Apples not only bringing innovation to our state, but also exporting our premium produce to the rest of the world.”
Lenswood Apples CEO James Walters said the equipment comes online at just the right time. “Our business has been expanding rapidly to meet new orders from around Australia and the world. With this new pre-sizer, we will more than double our processing capacity, whilst we speed packing production, and maximise quality & consistency in packing. Orders will continue to grow as we maintain our competitive edge in this way, and our team of staff is also expanding to manage this”.
The pre-sizer uses latest digital and optical technology to quickly and gently sort, grade and pack apples. Each and every apple is digitally photographed 100 times and uses ultra-high-speed IDD (Internal Defect Detection) technology to ensure highest possible quality standards, whilst the equipment processes all fruit, in particular the smaller circumference apples often preferred by international customers, with maximum speed and efficiency. The new equipment means that fruit can be shipped fully pre-packed for offshore retail sale, arriving at its final destination ready for sale and in peak condition.
Lenswood Apples was established in 1933 by a community of local apple growers and, today, is one of Australia’s greatest farming co-operatives. The Adelaide Hills based co-operative produces 70 per cent of the South Australia’s apple crop and more than 10 per cent of the nation’s apples.