Gearing up for a big kiwifruit year

By David Porter

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Trevelyan's Pack & Cool is spending $12 million on expansion ahead of the 2016 kiwifruit harvest, including optical fruit handling machinery worth $3 million, says general manager Steve Butler.
Trevelyan's Pack & Cool is spending $12 million on expansion ahead of the 2016 kiwifruit harvest, including optical fruit handling machinery worth $3 million, says general manager Steve Butler.

Trevelyan's Pack & Cool is installing a $3 million optical technology fruit handling machine as part of a major expansion project to prepare for the 2016 kiwifruit harvest, says general manager Steve Butler.

The Te Puke company expects to spend a total of $12 million on the development, which includes two new coolstores capable of holding an extra 800,000 trays of kiwifruit, plus a brand-new packhouse. A new access road is also being built.

A lift in the total volumes of Gold kiwifruit expected this season - the bulk of which will be grown and processed in the Bay of Plenty - is behind the investment and expansion of infrastructure. "Our breakdown is about 35 per cent Gold and 65 per cent Green," said Mr Butler.

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"The Gold share is growing as the G3 comes on and we get more mature vines. It's another big jump this year for everyone. The industry is pretty buoyant at the moment and the five-year outlook is pretty good for the industry."

A number of post-harvest operators have been investing in infrastructure to prepare for the coming volumes. Trevelyan's is unusual in that its operations are based on a single 20ha site. Even with the latest development, there would still be room for some further expansion, said Mr Butler.

"We are always looking for ways to improve our operation and the lift in forecasted volumes of Gold kiwifruit has given us momentum to invest in new buildings and technology," he said.

The new fruit handling machine is a nine-lane Compac sizer featuring Invision optical technology.

In addition to fruit handling machine and a new 4360sq m packhouse, two new 1300sq m coolstores will also be ready for this year's harvest, which kicks off in March.

An access road across a gully on site is now under construction and a new canopy for bin storage is being built. Once work is complete, Trevelyan's will have a total of 32 coolstores and five packhouses on site.

Trevelyan's maintenance and packhouse manager Richard Collumbell said 2016 would be one of the biggest years for the company in terms of construction. The size of the new fruit handling machine would lift production on the new line by 20 per cent. "This machine has an optical grading system with high definition camera and the latest LED lights plus infra-red cameras - we can use these cameras to highlight any defects such as blemishes and remove those fruit from the packing line," said Mr Collumbell.

"It will speed things up considerably because staff will no longer have to examine each and every piece of fruit."

Trevelyan's Pack & Cool:

* Packs kiwifruit for more than 250 growers.

* Expects to pack more than 14 million trays of kiwifruit this season, up from 12 million last season.

* Expects to pack more than 400,000 trays of avocados for over 150 growers this season.

* Employs around 140 permanent staff and up to 1400 seasonal staff.

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