Stemilt Growers Makes Cherry Packing The Ultimate Experience
WENATCHEE, WA - It’s very difficult to resist an enormous box of cherries, especially if consumers are seeing them come off of Stemilt’s Ultimate Cherry Line. After adopting this high-tech packing line, Stemilt has been more flexible with its automated packaging options and has been able to increase its capacity for moving volume.
“We call it the Ultimate Cherry Line because it’s our largest and longest cherry line yet,” stated Brianna Shales, Communications Manager. “There are 32 lanes of optical sizing and sorting that will be able to push both dark-sweet and Rainier/Skylar Rae® cherries through so we can get more out the door in less time.”
According to a press release, other lines at Stemilt have the flexibility in handling dark-sweet and light varieties, but the Ultimate Cherry Line is capable of packing both cherry types at once.
“As the Ultimate Line reaches full capacity with 48 lanes in the near future, we will be able to pack dark-sweet and light varieties simultaneously on parallel lines,” stated Shales. “This gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility and unique position in the industry.”
This flexibility will allow Stemilt to not only run multiple varieties, but also pack various types of consumer packs. The line comes with three automated clam fillers to pack UPC scannable clamshells, as well as pack and seal—the up-and-coming top seal packages.
Another feature of the Ultimate Line is its ability to adjust the level of cushion it provides to different cherry varieties, which makes it especially important when handling light-hued varieties, which have a higher tendency to bruise. At the front of the line, Stemilt has added an automated dumper for light varieties.
“The automated dumper is incredibly efficient at taking lugs of cherries and gently getting them on the packing line,” said Shales. “It also brings lugs to sanitization, allowing for their quick return to the field to be used again in harvest.”
The Ultimate Cherry Line also has an in-line hydro-cooling that will ultimately push cherries out the door faster. While on packing lines, cherries tend to heat up, but the in-line hydro-cooling allows finished cherry packages to come off the line close to an ideal shipping temperature. This shortens and potentially eliminates the jet cooling process cherries go through prior to shipment.
Shales noted that the Ultimate Cherry Line has been in the works since spring of 2018. With the new addition of the Fresh Cube, Stemilt’s state-of-the-art distribution center, the company was able to capture existing space from its previous shipping facility to house the new cherry packing line.
“The Ultimate Cherry Line is all about getting the cherries from the field to the box quickly and with high attention to quality,” concluded Shales. “Cherries are very perishable fruits and we want retailers and consumers to benefit from getting them at maximum freshness. That’s how we fulfill our mission of delighting consumers with our World Famous Cherries.”
I for one can’t wait to get my hands on some of those cherries!
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