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Over their years of operation, Benning Blueberries has faced a number of challenges with their blueberry growth and supply, their labour, output consistency, sorting accuracy and speed, and meeting the growing demand for high quality blueberries. Before their contact with GP Graders, they had a grading system which serviced the purpose of when it was originally purchased, however the needs and requirements had since changed and a more advance grading technology was required.
“As a result of this investment, we have already witnessed a 60% reduction in labour costs per tray” stated Bob Benning. The purpose of this savings is due to the increase in productivity in terms of quantity and quality. Today, Benning has increased its production from 4,000 trays per day to 15,000 trays per day with export-ready products.
“We have the same amount of people working, however we have moved them off the grading tables and into packing and quality control. We can now pack more product, our costs are going down, and we are delivering better quality produce and more volume than ever,” said Bob.
In Australia, the blueberry market has evolved to a $250 million business, that is exponentially growing with more and more growers getting involved in the industry, mainly due to growing abroad demand and global healthy consumption trends.
Hoping for new export opportunities, the Benning Blueberries team had the chance to travel out and meet some significant Asian-pacific fruit importers. The grower faced quality standards expectations, with buyers from overseas seeking exceptional quality in their produce.
“The representative we met with in China went through a process where he explained to us what we needed to do to succeed in exporting good quality blueberries in the market of China and Malaysia. The success factors we required is to deliver a consistent size, consistent firm berry and with good colour,” said Bob Benning.
Delivering low-end or over-priced berries would severely affect the Benning’s future and their overseas ambitions. Changing the way they sorted was crucial, and the production choices were looking to be a massive challenge. However, Benning Blueberries knew that the right technology investment would be hugely cost-effective as a grading machine could not only be used for the firmness detection but would simultaneously be able to customise colour sorting.
The market-leading company, GP Graders, took up this challenge with its pioneering blueberries sorting and grading system. The company have the assets to detain knowledgeable experts and cutting-edge technology. It is easy-to-use allowing greater control with customisable settings to adapt better to product seasonality. But above all, an advanced sorting precision at a level never before possible.
With the new GP Grader machine, Benning Blueberries was able to solve the problem of not having precise grading options to choose which berries to export, sell in Australia, or freeze. Their new solution allows them to have 16 different sorts of quality of the blueberries, all sorted into separate grades. They can separate the grade of softness, so they now have a lot more flexibility of which target markets they can sell to.
“Not everyone is after big, firm fruits as the market is quite complex, with this new grading system we’ve got opportunities to target every single market rather than just targeting a particular market,” said Bob Benning.
About GP Graders
Since 1963, GP Graders have been manufacturing machinery to meet the needs of growers and packers around the globe. GP Graders is the international leading supplier of fresh produce grading machinery.
GP Graders focuses on gentle handling, so produce is delivered fresh and unharmed. GP Graders’ machinery is designed and built with an emphasis on speed, accuracy and reliability. GP Graders machinery significantly reduces operating costs and achieves higher quality grading standards that satisfy domestic and export markets. For more information please visit www.gpgraders.com.
About Benning Berries
Benning Blueberries is a family owned business, across three generations, which has been farming for the past 17 years in Wodonga NSW Australia. The farm grows approximately 350 acres of blueberries, 10 acres of raspberries and has 5,000 macadamia trees. For more information please visit www.benningblueberries.com.au.
For more information:
Stuart Payne CEO
+61 428 544 005
Bob Benning CEO
Phone: +61 2 66 547 885