SOUTH AFRICA – Sitrusrand, a leading player in the citrus industry, has expanded its global production capacity with the adoption of TOMRA’s cutting-edge Spectrim and Inspectra² platforms.
From its humble beginnings as a 10-hectare mixed farm, Sitrusrand, located in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, has undergone a remarkable evolution.
Now spanning 60 kilometers along the Sundays River, with 1,400 hectares dedicated to citrus cultivation, Sitrusrand has emerged as a global force, employing 1,500 individuals, and exporting citrus fruits to numerous countries.
Pieter Nortje, grandson of the farm’s founder, has been a key catalyst in this journey. Joining the family business in 1994, he brought forth a vision of farming on a grand scale.
“Fortune favors the brave,” Pieter states, emphasizing his desire to supply supermarkets globally with a continuous presence of high-quality fruit.
In pursuit of this vision, Pieter initiated the construction of Sitrusrand’s first packhouse within a year of joining. Recognizing the limitations of manual sorting, he sought inspiration from European packhouses and, when financially viable, integrated the latest technology.
The game-changer came in 2020 with the opening of the fourth packhouse equipped with TOMRA’s Spectrim sorter and grader, along with the Inspectra² platform for internal defect grading.
Impact of TOMRA’s platforms
TOMRA’s Spectrim sorter and grader, renowned as the world’s most powerful fresh produce grading platform, has empowered Sitrusrand to achieve unprecedented accuracy.
With consistent lighting, powerful imaging, and machine learning, Spectrim adeptly sorts and grades minor and major defects, offering configurable parameters to cater to varying market demands.
The Inspectra² platform complements this by utilizing near-infrared spectrometry to detect internal defects, with a particular focus on brix levels.
This dual-platform integration ensures not only superior quality but opens new avenues in brix grading, expanding Sitrusrand’s trading possibilities.
“Spectrim and Inspectra² have met our expectations and then some. These machines have opened up new opportunities – especially the brix grading with Inspectra²,” Pieter Nortje reflects on the transformative impact of TOMRA’s technology.
“Spectrim is a lot better than our previous sorting equipment – we can sort out a lot of blemishes with it, things we previously couldn’t sort out. Whatever you want taken out, the machine can do it,” Attie Janse van Rensburg, Sitrusrand Estate’s Production Manager, echoes.
Atti further highlights that consistency in product quality is not the sole focus for Sitrusrand but also the integration of Spectrim and Inspectra² to ensure dependable quantity.
“We also need consistency in our ability to deliver the fruit. Spectrim and Inspectra² are very user-friendly, and TOMRA’s training was excellent.”
Towards a sustainable future
Sitrusrand’s commitment to TOMRA’s cutting-edge technologies aligns with its broader commitment to sustainability and quality assurance.
The integration of these advanced platforms ensures traceability, crucial for meeting global food safety standards and bolstering consumer confidence.
As Sitrusrand continues to lead in global citrus production, the adoption of TOMRA’s cutting-edge technologies reflects the organization’s dedication to excellence.
The partnership exemplifies how innovation and strategic alliances can drive the citrus industry towards a sustainable and quality-driven future.
In the words of Pieter Nortje, “TOMRA Food is an amazing company to work with. At Sitrusrand, we pride ourselves on doing the best for our fruit, and TOMRA is the best we can do for our fruit.”