Jul 25, 2018Oregon growers invest in first-ever all-pear line
|Diamond Fruit Growers Chairman Scott Halliday unveiled the company’s – and the world’s – first-ever pear line from Unitec on Monday, July 16, at a Hood River, Oregon ceremony.
Unitec CEO Angelo Benedetti, who made his first trip from Italy to the United States especially for the presentation, joined Halliday and Diamond President David Garcia at the ribbon-cutting.
Representing Starr Ranch Growers, which formed an exclusive sales partnership with Diamond Fruit Growers in 2008 to create the brand “Diamond Starr Growers,” were CEO Brett Reasor and Director of Marketing Scott Marboe.
Noting the line specifically addresses pear characteristics, Halliday said Unitec designed “the biggest, baddest pear line in the world.” He said Diamond Fruit Growers’ investment is “putting back into the facilities for long-term success.”
The new 18-lane sizer will run 100 bins per hour, replacing two presizing machines. From 12-15 employees can run the machine each shift, compared to 75 employees per shift with the previous line. Shrink is expected to be reduced by half with the gentler handling.
Describing events that led up to the new line, Garcia said that in fact pear lines have in the past actually been converted from apple lines. He said in 2010 that the company initiated a project to find and install machinery made just for pears.
“We wanted to be here another 100 years,” Garcia said of the century-old operation. “And (in the search for a specific line) we quickly discovered there was not a lot of new technology in pears.”
A research team traveled to Europe, he said, and found an apple line that had been adapted for pears in Holland using optic sorting.
“Then we went to Unitec,” Garcia said. At that time the produce equipment giant said while there was no such line in operation, there were ideas for one. Within about a year Unitec had preliminary plans for a start-to-finish pear line, and Diamond signed on.
The full design took a couple of years, and a prototype was used by Diamond for the 2017 season. This year the fully operational line is running, and it kicked off the pear season the week of July 16.
Starr Ranch’s Reasor said from a marketing and sales standpoint, the new line is a great benefit. “This gives us a method to keep product consistent and providing the consumer with a better product,” he said.
Marboe added, “We are excited to have this new line for our customers, growers and the industry. The technology behind it with the optical sorting, sizing and other capabilities is going to help keep the pear category growing in the right direction now and the future.”