On the 23rd of March, Prime Minister Bill English officially opened EastPack’s new ‘super grader’ in Te Puke, New Zealand ahead of the start of this year’s kiwifruit harvest. The Washer Road site now has the largest automated kiwifruit grading and sorting line in the world, with 14 lanes and the ability to pack 100,000 trays per shift. This provides EastPack with capacity to pack more than 40 million trays of fruit across the business.
EastPack has experienced some extreme growth over the last couple of years, which has allowed them to invest significantly in infrastructure and new technology - spending over $40 million this year, following the $25 million spent last year. EastPack CEO, Hamish Simson described the Spectrim grader as a new chapter in leading edge technology by packing more efficiently for EastPack. The grader uses the world leading Spectrim photo grading technology to improve efficiencies at the site and accuracy of grading.
Bill English was very impressed with EastPack’s new site, stating that the excellence demonstrated to the investment of skills and expertise gives the Government confidence to back local businesses on the world stage.
"To come and see this kind of investment, seeing the skills, depth and culture of expertise that you have here [at EastPack] gives us the confidence to spend more money, do more trips, take more time and argue more strongly with these other governments [overseas] so that you can get your products in.”
The Spectrim grader is also fitted with Inspectra near infra-red (NIR) technology. This looks inside the fruit and reads the changes in wavelengths to test brix and dry matter, and ultimately the internal quality of the fruit. Inspectra has been popular within the Kiwifruit industry after it's excellent performance in the recovery efforts in 2016, where growers experienced a year of low dry matter. Packhouses were utilizing the technology to ensure their kiwifruit met the Zespri quality and taste standard.
The Recovery Play: What to do when nature doesn’t play ball? Find out how EastPack reacted to a year of low dry matter here.
“The benefits for our growers is that they can recover more fruit for every bin they pack at EastPack, meaning fruit can be packed more cost effectively. With the largest grader and the largest capacity in New Zealand, even with the increased volume of fruit, EastPack growers can get their fruit packed on time.” Hamish Simpson, CEO, EastPack.
It’s not just EastPack and their growers who benefit from the investment in technology, but also the end consumer. EastPack packs for Zespri - the largest kiwifruit marketer in the world, who’s $2 billion brand prides itself on delivering consistently high quality kiwifruit and providing a great eating experience. Packhouses with the latest technology Spectrim and Inspectra technology can ensure they meet these standards.