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A Blueberry Revolution

Around 15 years ago, sales of mechanical graders for cherries came to a grinding hold. Practically overnight, sales went from countless builds to less than a few in a year. It was the introduction of electronic vision grading systems that marked the monumental shift and it has forever changed the way cherries are packed, priced and sold. Growers and packers are now able to command a higher price, not only for their larger cherries but also for the first-grade premium fruit. The introduction of these new electronic machines has brought about a notably better product delivered to the customers and prices reflect this. Fast forward to today and that same disruption is happening once again with electronic vision grading systems available for blueberry sorting.

Market Opportunities

The ability to sort blueberries into relative degrees of softness and quality opens the door to sell to different markets, including export. The capacity to ship only your firmest berries overseas, guaranteeing fruit arrives in top condition and of quality that export markets demand.  The firmer the berries, the longer the life and the more resilient they will be to additional transportation and handling that comes with international freight. Imagine the export opportunities that would present, if you were able to confidently assure the buyer that fruit would arrive at its destination in the high-quality standard you promised.

Consistent Sizing

We’re predicting a push towards more consistent sizing in blueberry punnets, in the same fashion cherries are sold. Already, it’s becoming apparent that larger blueberries are the hero, and so we firmly believe that growers that can accurately classify their blueberries into size categories will be charging a premium on their larger fruit. A recent report from the Argentinean Blueberry Committee notes that “Argentine blueberries are reaching unprecedented levels of quality and larger size” supporting the notion that size really does matter. The growers who’ve embraced vision grading systems already, are ahead of the pack because this sorting possibility already exists. With near perfect size sorting being achieved with the GP Graders’ gpVision® technology, punnet consistency can be assured and profited from.

Setting the quality standard

The president of the ABGA, Jonathan Shaw, recently shared some observations from his own market research that highlighted the negative impact of bringing average fruit to market. “Mouldy, wrinkled, red and small. Any one of these attributes should have seen the fruit rejected prior to packing.” comments Shaw after surveying multiple punnets from local outlets. He goes on to say that unsuspecting customers will find themselves upset and feeling ripped off for paying for a poor product. This in turn, means it’s unlikely they would buy blueberries again for several weeks and will likely tell their friends of the bad experience.

The reality is, this bad fruit in the market represents a false economy. Sub-par quality fruit released too early might be good for revenue on the page now but denies additional profit down the track and sadly causes lasting damage to reputation. The reduced consumer confidence and diminished demand hurts prices and therefore profitability.

The opportunity, therefore, exists to not only help the industry as a whole but also, position your brand as a benchmark for the standard that all others should strive for. The gpVision® blueberry sorting solution can take any of the defects Shaw mentions, and more, out of the equation, ensuring only your very best fruit hit the consumer shelves.

Easier to use than you ever thought

While the software architecture of the gpVision® system is one of complex programming and algorithms, the user side of the technology is incredibly simple. One of our AirJet® Blueberry Grader customers has been absolutely amazed by just how versatile the machine has been without having to change programs each time a new variety is processed. As a breeder of nearly 100 different varieties, it’s been a game-changer, almost completely removing the need for a skilled technician to operate the machine. Add the fact that the new user interface has been designed with ease-of-use at the top of priorities list, you will find comfort in knowing the machine can get on with the grading task, with minimal human intervention.  Basically, after 2 hours of training, you are running the machine to its maximum blueberry sorting capability.

You say you want a revolution

‘Well, you know, we all want to change the {blueberry} world.’ Thank you, Paul & John.

But in all seriousness, just like the cherry world 15 years ago, blueberry sorting is set for a revolution. The meteoric rise in popularity of blueberries across the globe will see the need to deliver a high-quality product, be the most important factor in the success of your blueberry business. Partnering your pack-house operations with the leading blueberry solutions provider is a recipe for success. GP Graders has been at the forefront of many of the small fruit grading developments over the last 30 years and continues to innovate with time and resources continually spent to ensure our technology remains world-class and solutions focused. To learn more, visit gpgraders.com/blueberries

Author: gpgraders
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