CMI Orchards Uses Technology and Innovation to Produce World-Class Fruit
WENATCHEE, WA - Combining the power of cutting-edge technology with innovation, CMI Orchards and its Owners and Partners are delivering efficiency, enhanced freshness, and consistent quality. From the orchard to the packing facilities, CMI’s tech and innovations help the company stay relevant at retail.
“A big focus at CMI Orchards is to strategically forecast marketplace dynamics 10 years from now. This helps us to really understand how technology can be leveraged to help our growers produce the very best fruit possible in the most efficient manner to meet anticipated consumer demands,” explained Bob Mast, President of CMI Orchards.
One example of innovation in use, a press release noted, is the software used in orchards to monitor soil moisture levels at different elevations.
“This digital monitoring provides real-time data on temperature, soil moisture, and wind speed to my phone. This helps maintain proper fruit size and reduces disease and waste in our organic blocks,” commented Mike Robinson, Co-Owner of Double Diamond Fruit.
CMI’s Owners and Partners have invested in state-of-the-art sorting machinery to be used in its packing sheds.
“We grade and size cherries optically, taking photos of each cherry from multiple camera angles, which allows us to analyze firmness and quality to guarantee only the best product makes it into each pack,” added Robinson.
One of CMI’s grower partners, McDougall & Sons, added five robotic tray fillers to its packing lines last season.
“We’re now running packing stations that use robots to place the fruit in trays after grading and sorting. We’ve been incredibly pleased with the performance,” stated Bryon McDougall, Co-Owner of McDougall & Sons.
Several more partners of CMI Orchards made statements regarding the grower’s commitment to innovation.
“Because of the expected increase in consumer demand to purchasing packaged fruit, we’ve upgraded our packing systems. Our automated pouch bagging system automatically weighs, labels, and seals the fruit to limit handling prior to sale,” Marc Spears, Co-Owner of Pine Canyon Growers, explained. “Shoppers seem to like the convenience pouch bags offer, and packing this way certainly offers advantages from a packing efficiency standpoint. We’re currently considering an upgrade to our quality control process and looking at technology which will allow us to do a better job of forecasting size and grade in our inventory system,” continued Spears. “The end goal is to utilize innovation and technology to produce the freshest, best tasting and highest quality product for our customers and to ensure maximum returns for our growers.”
Brandt Fritz, Production Manager at Columbia Fruit Packers, added, “We use ozone in our storage facilities to further improve quality. With our growing focus on organics, effectively using ozone has been an important addition to our storage process. It prolongs the life of the fruit. We are continually monitoring new technology and innovation and testing based on what we believe will best meet our customers’ needs. The use of technology has allowed us to increase our efficiency, lower costs, and keep pace with consumer demand."
Mike Wilcox, Co-Owner of Yakima Fruit, also chimed in, saying, “This has become an industry that uses technology at every step. At Yakima Fruit, sales drive many of our technology-related decisions. Shifting consumer preferences and a need to maintain a competitive price point leads us to continually look for new innovation that can help us maintain quality. Many of our technology upgrades are driven by consumer demand and trying to increase efficiency with labor-intensive jobs. For example, we’re currently looking at a new palletization system that will provide efficiency with stacking and storage.”
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