High-tech mango ripening & sorting facilities at BioTropic in test phase
Finally we are ready: Our four mango ripening chambers and our new mango sorting machine are installed at BioTropic’s main site in Duisburg!
Sascha Suler, manager at BioTropic Duisburg, explains: „These hi-tech facilities allow us to offer ripened organic mangoes, excellent taste is not a matter of good luck anymore. We are currently fine-tuning the equipment, as part of a test phase. From January on next year, we will be officially supplying “ready-to-eat” organic quality mangoes to our customers.”
Mangoes taste best picked ripe from the tree. However, the fruits are harvested before they are ripe. This is important, otherwise the fruits would over-ripen during the sea journey and spoil too quickly. Our ripening chamber's job is to re-start the ripening process in a natural way, by influencing humidity and temperature. This way, the aroma and sugar content (Brix value) can develop optimally.
Sorting according to size and ripeness
After the precision ripening, the mangoes enter the phase of quality control, done by the mango sorting machine. Here, each fruit is checked individually. “Because we want to ensure that every BioTropic-mango that we deliver has perfect taste,” says Sascha Suler.
The fruits pass through the following stages of the sorting machine:
• pressure testing to determine firmness
• visual testing with cameras to determine skin defects
• acoustic testing to search for internal defects
• and light testing to determine the sugar content
The result are the best and most delicious organic mangoes, ready to eat.
Machinery coached like a baby
The sorting machine must first learn how to perform optimal quality checks. Erdal Kizilyol, head of the Duisburg packing station, says mischievously: “Our sorting machine is like a baby, learning more and more every day.” During this learning process, Erdal and his colleagues run hundreds of mangoes through the machine. The individual fruits are shown on a screen. When Erdal notices an abnormality that the software has not recognised, he programmes a new parameter into the software. This is a complex and often painstaking job. But once it’s done, the machine is smarter and automatically checks the new parameters on all following mangoes. Currently "Osteen" mangoes from Spain are packed, harvested each year in autumn. This means that the mango sorting machine is currently calibrated for Spanish mangoes.
A mango is not just a mango
Our objective to deliver perfect mangoes year around is an ongoing process, and will probably take until next summer. Why is this the case? Due to the variety of countries of origin, with different microclimates, soils, production and harvesting periods, our mangoes are available all year round, but vary according to variety, sizes, taste, and response to the ripening process. To complicate matters further, event fruits from the same tree differ in maturity. This means that not all fruits ripen at the same time. The sorting machine has to “learn” all of this. In the course of this winter, it will have experienced all mango varieties from a number of countries and will then be able to sort according to the specific parameters of each fruit, as well as according to the requirements of the specific customer. We are proud to use technical innovations in our value chain, and this way be able to respond adequately to the challenges of nature.
Some professional visitors have already visited our state-of-the-art facilities, and were able to try ripened mangoes. They were as enthusiastic about Biotropic´s “ready-to-eat” mangoes as we are! Also, trial sales with ripened mangoes resulted in doubled orders from the shops.
--> Watch the mango movie here
Text: Visnja Malesic
Images: BioTropic GmbH
Version: November 2017