Westfalia Fruit Colombia, a company of Westfalia Fruit, a South African leader in the supply of subtropical fruit, inaugurated in January a new processing plant for Hass avocados in Sonsón, in the department of Antioquia, Colombia. The new facility is the largest and most advanced avocado processing plant in the country, featuring the latest grading and sorting technologies of packhouse technology provider Compac.
The ceremony, which attracted more than 200 guests, was presided by Colombia’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Governor of Antioquia, the Mayor of Sonsón, and the Ambassador of New Zealand, Westfalia Fruit Colombia’s stakeholders, representatives from industry organisations, top management from South Africa’s Westfalia Group, and Chile’s AGRICOM fresh fruit producer and exporter and owner of Westfalia Fruit Colombia and Westfalia Farms Colombia.
The new plant significantly extends the processing capacity of Westfalia Fruit Colombia, adding to the two facilities it already runs in Antioquia. The company started operation in the production, packing and sale of Hass avocados for export in 2012 and has developed very fast in the country’s buoyant avocado industry which, according to the Trade Ministry, has seen exports increase by 413% from US$ 10.3 Million in 2015 to US$ 52.9 Million in 2017. In just six years Westfalia Fruit Colombia has exported more than 800 containers to international destinations across the world such as the UK, the Netherlands, France, the USA, Spain, Canada and Saudi Arabia, quickly becoming the country’s first exporter of Hass avocados. With the investment in the new facility in Sonsón, the company expects to triple its production capacity to support its continued growth.
Pedro Aguilar-Niño, General Manager of Westfalia Fruit Colombia, stated, “This inauguration is an event of great significance for Colombia’s Hass avocado export industry. Such an investment on the part of a global company is a sign of great confidence in this country. This processing plant has the highest capacity and the most advanced technology in the country. It is a strong statement of belief in the region, which becomes a true cluster for the production and export of Hass avocados. For us at Westfalia, our experience with the community in this municipality has been instrumental in our decision to make this further significant investment. We have equipped the plant with the advanced systems provided by New Zealand company Compac, part of TOMRA Food. Together, we will be able to contribute to the development of our sector.”
Cutting edge technology for the new Sonsón processing plant
The new processing plant benefits from the advanced packhouse technologies of the Compac Multi Lane Sorter (MLS) and Inspectra2 systems.
“These solutions will provide the answers to Westfalia Fruit Colombia’s requirements,” explained Jacinto Trigo, Compac Latin America Regional Director. “They ensure the consistently high quality of its product and optimise grading precision. Together, with the high quality after sales service that Compac is able to deliver, its packhouse technology enables the company to meet its requirements in post-harvest processing capacity, minimize waste, and ensure its customers’ satisfaction.”
The 5-lane Compac MLS can process 25 tonnes of avocadoes per hour, ensuring the capacity required by Westfalia Fruit Colombia. The fruit is then ready for inspection by the Inspectra2 platform, which uses Near-infrared (NIR) technology to test the internal properties of each piece of fruit and deliver consistently high grading accuracy. It detects defects that are not visible externally and sorts the good from the bad, eliminating the need to cut samples of fruit. Most importantly, it grades the avocados on dry matter and softness, which indicates the maturity of the fruit. This allows Westfalia to pack the produce according to the customer’s requirements and where they are in the supply chain, ensuring they receive the highest quality fruit at optimal maturity for their operation. With this technology Westfalia is able to deliver consistently high quality, enhancing its brand perception and increasing the export opportunities for its Hass avocados.