On 18 January, Westfalia Fruit Colombia inaugurated a new processing plant for Hass avocados in Sonsón, in the department of Antioquia, Colombia.
The new facility is one of the largest and most advanced avocado processing plants in the country, featuring the latest grading and sorting technologies of world-leading packhouse technology provider Compac.
The inauguration ceremony attracted more than 200 guests and was presided by Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Governor of Antioquia, the Mayor of Sonson, the Ambassador of New Zealand and Westfalia Fruit Colombia’s stakeholders, as well as representatives from industry organisations, top management from South Africa’s Westfalia Group, Chile’s AGRICOM fresh fruit producer and exporter, and the owner of Westfalia Fruit Colombia and Westfalia Farms Colombia.
The new plant significantly extends the processing capacity of Westfalia Fruit Colombia, adding to the two facilities it already runs in Antioquia. The company started operation in the production, packing and sale of Hass avocados for export in 2012, and has developed very quickly in the country’s buoyant avocado industry, which has seen exports increase by 413% from $10.3m in 2015 to $52.9m in 2017, according to the Trade Ministry.
In just six years, Westfalia Fruit Colombia has exported more than 800 containers to international destinations across the world such as the UK, The Netherlands, France, the US, Spain, Canada and Saudi Arabia, quickly becoming one of the country’s first exporters of Hass avocados.
With the investment in the new facility in Sonsón, the company expects to triple its production capacity to support its continued growth.
General manager of Westfalia Fruit Colombia Pedro Aguilar-Niño stated: “This inauguration is an event of great significance for Colombia’s Hass avocado export industry. Such an investment on the part of a global company is a sign of great confidence in this country.
“This processing plant has the highest capacity and the most advanced technology in the country, it is a strong statement of belief in the region, which becomes a true cluster for the production and export of Hass avocadoes.
“For us at Westfalia, our experience with the community in this municipality has been instrumental in our decision to make this further significant investment. We have equipped the plant with the advanced systems provided by New Zealand company Compac, part of TOMRA Food, a true leader in cutting edge fruit grading and sorting technology. Together, we will be able to contribute to the development of our sector.”
Cutting edge technology for the new Sonsón processing plant
The new processing plant benefits from the advanced packhouse technologies of the Compac Multi Lane Sorter (MLS) and Inspectra2 systems.
Compac Latin America regional director Jacinto Trigo said: “These solutions will provide the answers to Westfalia Fruit Colombia’s requirements.
“They ensure the consistently high quality of its product and optimise grading precision. Together with the high quality after sales service that Compac is able to deliver, its packhouse technology enables the company to meet its requirements in post-harvest processing capacity, minimise waste, and ensure its customers’ satisfaction.”
The 5-lane Compac MLS can process 25t of avocadoes per hour, ensuring the capacity required by Westfalia Fruit Colombia. The fruit is then ready for inspection by the Inspectra2 platform, which uses near-infrared (NIR) technology to test the internal properties of each piece of fruit and deliver consistently high-grading accuracy.
It detects defects that are not visible externally and sorts the good from the bad, eliminating the need to cut samples of fruit. Most importantly, it grades the avocadoes on dry matter and softness, which indicate the maturity of the fruit. This allows Westfalia to pack the produce according to the customer’s requirements and where they are in the supply chain, ensuring they receive the highest quality fruit at optimal maturity for their operation.
With this technology, Westfalia is able to deliver consistently high-quality products, enhancing its brand perception and increasing the export opportunities for its Hass avocadoes.
About Westfalia Fruit
Westfalia Fruit was founded in 1949 in South Africa. It is a leading multinational supplier of fresh fruit and related processed products to international markets. Part of the Hans Merensky Holdings Group, Westfalia grows, sources, ripens, packs, processes and markets avocados all year round.
Its vertically-integrated supply chain enables Westfalia to market quality fruit from across the globe.
About Agricom, owner of Westfalia Fruit Colombia and Westfalia Farms Colombia
Agricom is a Chilean producer and exporter of fresh fruit with more than 35 years of operation in the international markets.
It relies on 1,400 hectares of sustainably farmed land and more than 1800 employees who share a passion for high-quality fruit. In Colombia, it employs more than 350 people.
The company maintains strong long-term business relationships based on respect, trust, transparency, loyalty and commitment to employees, suppliers, customers, producers, the community and the environment. It delivers on its commitment to supporting and providing the best and safest produce to its growers, packers and customers through innovation, cutting-edge technology, the strictest quality control, a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. This has enabled it to achieve international accreditations that include Global Gap, Vritish Retail Consortium (BRC), Hazard and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Sedex Smeta.
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