Fruit and vegetables
The automated cool room could be just around the corner for fruit and vegetable growers.
The idea was just one technological innovation suggested to industry stakeholders at the Produce Marketing Association – Australia and New Zealand (PMA-ANZ) Fresh Connections 2012 conference in Melbourne this week.
The three-day conference has brought together more than 800 fresh produce growers, marketers, wholesalers, retailers and researchers to network and attend information sessions.
An session on traceability within the fruit and vegetable sector saw George Pecchia of business solutions company Peacock Brothers, explain an installation within a New Zealand kiwifruit packing and storage facility which has installed an Optical Indoor Tracking Solution.
A camera mounted on top of a forklift within the shed scans barcodes on the ceiling of both the storage and coolrooms, therefore allowing a manager to track the every movement of each forklift.
A further front-mounted camera also scans fruit pallet barcodes which include fruit description information and packing date.
This is then relayed to the forklift driver via a screen which instructs him or her exactly where the pallet should be moved to, be it onto a truck or into a section of the storage facility.
The system has significantly reduced fruit loss and costs associated with mishandling.
Traceability overall was a key topic of discussion in other sessions, including shopper feedback statistic gathering, and analysing Australia and New Zealand’s preparedness if a major food safety scare occurred.
Amanda Hill, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), detailed the current systems in place should a food incident occur either side of the Tasman.
She said while the countries are well positioned, there are aspects that could be improved.
“Traceability has been the single biggest issue that delays our response,” she said.
Ms Hill said she would like to see a more collaborated approach on a national level which brought together industry and government management and response mechanisms.
Other conference sessions have covered areas such as social media marketing, retail space ownership, business management in difficult times, and vertically integrated wholesalers.
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Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.