Petrow Food Group, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of ingredients to the breakfast cereal, bakery, confectionery, ready meals, sauces and snack sectors, can now offer unprecedented levels of safety, quality and capacity following a major investment in a new fruit processing line.
Petrow invested £850,000 in one of the most sophisticated and well-designed machines of its kind, a high-tech nerve centre incorporating the latest technology such as X-ray, flame unit, laser, throat metal detector and automatic packing unit.
Together, this game-changing technology perfects one of the most critical food safety operations – the identification and removal of stones, pits, glass, metal, plastic and other foreign bodies. Such elements can accidentally work their way into the supply chain and sourcing process during harvesting or sun-drying and often slips through upstream inspection processes.
The line for processing dates and other dried fruits was installed in Petrow’s Haverhill production facility in Suffolk in mid-September and takes automation and enhanced safety to new levels. The brief was to twin improved speed and productivity with increased sensitivity and automation to enable Petrow customers to meet ever-more stringent demands from retailers and consumers for quality and food safety.
Dates and dried fruits are supplied as ingredients for breakfast cereals, pickles and sauces, bakery products, confectionery and sweets as well as pastes, where demand for quality at all levels of production and the finished goods is at a premium. This equipment ticks every box on production and safety, while speed and efficiency improvements will help customers grow their markets.
The sophisticated sorting technology forms a vital quality gold standard, as not all harvesting and processing regimes at the origins go through the same quality and safety procedures. Where some traditional machines fall short on screening, Petrow’s processing line is highly responsive to identifying best quality fruit.
It is this guarantee of quality that can help customers penetrate new market sectors and build market share, and support export volumes to destinations that increasingly focus on more stringent demands.
Petrow Food Group Managing Director Ian Tatchell says: “This complete processing line assures outstanding ease and reliability of operation to throw open more opportunities for customers. Automation maximises production efficiency while advanced quality control offers the safety, quality and throughput to take performance and competitiveness to the highest levels.”
Mark Kirkley, Operations Director at Petrow Food Group, adds: “The new line has a maximum throughput of 1200 kilos, enabling us to respond quicker to larger volume orders from customers. Automation increases operational efficiency to meet and exceed customer expectations on safety, quality and legality at a time when such concerns are rising across all sectors of the food industry.”
The complete processing line boasts automatic unblocker and vibrating belts to smooth out clumps of dates or fruit. A macerator meanwhile removes pits before a flame unit rids the fruit of hairs. X-ray technology detects foreign bodies, specifically metal, ceramic and glass, while a throat metal detector optimizes much higher sensitivity for the processing of bulk products.
Fruit is chopped and passed through a large tumbler, where it is powdered with rice flour to avoid further clumping. The fruit is then sorted to ensure it is the exact size specified by the customer, before the final range of high-tech capabilities swings into action, automatically weighing, filling and packaging the fruit in precise volumes according to customer stipulations.
Ian Tatchell concludes: “This technology is the most advanced of its kind, fully justifying the investment. The processing line is highly intuitive and designed to satisfy the most rigorous standards in production, safety and hygiene while its sophistication combines perfect preparation of dried produce but outstanding ease, safety and reliability of operation.”