As New Zealand’s kiwifruit season was drawing to a close for 2016, we took a day out to head down the road and catch up with Hume Pack-N-Cool to see how their season had gone. Since 1984, Hume and Compac have been working together. This was the year that Compac founder Hamish Kennedy was building his very first grading machine for his parents’ kiwifruit orchard in Kerikeri. At the same time, Hume founder Dave Hume was building his first coolstore in Katikati.
Compac and Hume’s partnership has always been aligned with Hume’s mission to “be the top performing contributor in the kiwifruit industry through commitment, innovation & service, maximizing grower return.” Hume have utilized Compac’s internal quality system Inspectra during the last two seasons to help them achieve this goal. Compac's technology is used to measure internal properties including brix (sugar), color, and dry matter; and work is also being done on pressure and storage life. During 2015, Hume and Compac ran development trials using Class 2 fruit to determine the capability of Inspectra, this was successful and implemented in production during the 2016 season.
Since 2010, when Psa-V devastated the Hort16A cultivar, the industry has been recovering well with the new Zespri SunGold. This new variety has brought some challenges for kiwifruit growers as it is more sensitive to growing conditions and dry matter can drop significantly. This change is important for growers because dry matter includes both soluble sugars and insoluble solids (carbohydrates and starch). It is an important indicator of quality and is used to determine whether kiwifruit meet the minimum taste standard of Zespri.
2016 sunlight hours were low and lead to a season with very low dry matter. The timing of the low dry matter year was great for both Hume and Compac’s Inspectra, together we were able to successfully ensure each individual kiwifruit that met the taste standard was put in a box. With Inspectra, Hume was able to recover over 120,000 trays back into inventory. This fruit was originally considered un-packable but by segregating the high dry matter fruit, Hume was allowed to pack it regardless. Multiply the price per tray by 120,000 and the value to Hume and its growers is pretty evident. Additionally, salvaging those trays meant food wastage was drastically reduced, as those trays did not have to be dumped.
Zespri has a premium position in the market and is one of the most recognizable brands in the global fruit industry. A combination of a low dry matter year, along with the results of testing in 2015 has changed Zepri's view on Inspectra technology. They have since introduced service level agreements that enable packhouses to use Inspectra’s dry matter grading to recover Class 1 fruit from lots that failed the initial quality control. This is a key component of the Zespri brand promise – they have built a brand of high quality premium products and are consistently having to balance meeting this standard and providing returns to growers.
Inspectra has significantly increased packout and this meant that more growers are now sending their fruit to Hume. The 2016 season has really highlighted Inspectra’s position in New Zealand’s kiwifruit market, and on the back of this success, Compac has been able to take this technology to Kiwifruit packhouses around the world. The value of Inspectra is clear for growers, packhouses, Zespri and most importantly the end consumer, who can rely on Zespri Kiwifruit to be consistently high quality and provide a great eating experience.