Aug 3, 2018New facilities drive Titan Farms upgrade
A large piece of Titan Farms’ growth and establishment as a successful vertically integrated fruit production company was developing world-class facilities, including a new packing shed, processing plant and a bulked-up food safety program.
Co-owner Chalmers Carr III spent two years traveling around the world to determine how to build the best packing shed.
“We made a $9 million investment in 2015 and a little bit more in 2016. We didn’t build a new facility. We completely gutted our existing facility, changing it from an open-air packing shed to a closed-door one with an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system throughout the building. It’s a brand-new packing line. We added shipping coolers, offices and a few other things to go with it. It’s an enclosed building with added acreage.”
The facility includes a new Compac line, value-added packing lines, food safety upgrades, and Spectrim and Taste Test technology.
“The technology is the big thing,” Carr said. “Compac did not arrive with the machinery at our facility until March 5; we started packing peaches on May 9. A lot of work went in really quick to put in this packing line.”
“We have two separate washers and dumpers from the rest of the packing line for food safety control,” Carr said. “We went down from 30 palletizers to six people using the technology.”
The camera grading system allowed the operation to go from 48 people to 16.
“We plan to get it down to 12 this season. So we went from 48 graders, down to 12, just by technology,” he said. “The technology allows us to sort our gradeouts.
We can grade or downgrade fruit for our processing plant.”
Titan Farms also sought to control its waste by “turning yesterday’s commercial peach waste into high-quality IQF (individually quick frozen) frozen peach products and peach puree.”
With acreage growing from 1,500 to 6,275, the company harvests 80 million pounds of peaches. With 2 million boxes packed, that leads to16 million pounds of grade outs that will be culled or discarded, Carr said.
“There were tractor loads of fruit we were throwing away,” Carr said. “The demand for frozen fruits was going up. It’s driven by healthier lifestyles and younger people’s interest in how they eat fruit.
There has been an increase in demand, and a decrease in supply. Blender sales have doubled in the last five years due to people making smoothies. Processing operations are handled by Palmetto Processing Solutions.
“The demand for frozen fruit has increased 67 percent in the past three years,” said Carr in identifying an obviously growing revenue source.
In 2016, Titan Farms built a 64,000-square-foot processing plant. In 2017, 22,000 square feet of more space were constructed.
“Including the new space, we have nearly two acres under cover,” Carr said. “We can do slices, dices and peach puree and fruit cups. We now package the four-ounce frozen freestone fruit cups for the USDA food program. We’re the only company on the East Coast that does that. There are only three in the country now, we’re one of them.”
The expansion projects will lead to new sales, farming and processing opportunities for the company, Carr said.
– Gary Pullano, FGN Managing Editor
Above: After expansions to its packing facility in 2016 and 2017, Titan Farms has almost two acres of indoor space. Photo: Titan Farms