TRADE AND MARKET I NG Fruit Logistica: tech and trends in the international fresh world WUR makes potatoes float The new 3D assessment technique tool of the Agro Food Robotics group at Wageningen University attracted a lot of interest at the Dutch pavilion. The device works faster and more accurately than the existing techniques. By feeding the product (potatoes or fruit) into the scanner at a speed of 20 km per hour, a floating moment is created, whereby a 360-degree image is made of each individual fruit. In addition to size and shape, the computer can also analyse external defects. ‘A colour camera can map out deviations and calculate the surfa ce damage or discoloured patches’, explains Paul Goethals of Wageningen University. Although there is a mango in the exhibited copy, there are also tests with potatoes. At this stage, Goethals can’t say which companies are involved in the project. But he sees various applications: ‘First, the technology is attractive for breeders. Because the technology is so fast, you can inspect complete batches instead of a sample. There are also possibilities in the French-fry industry such as the inspection of supply lines. You can then calculate all your returns at the start.’ According to Paul Goedhals, a capacity of 20 tons per hour is feasible. It’s not yet possible to look under the skin. ‘You’d need X-ray equipment for that and that’s not possible at this high speed.’ De Aardappelhoeve steps into convenience At the Flemish pavilion, De Aardappelhoeve showed a series of new convenience products, a category that is still fairly new for this family business. ‘It’s quite simple, people are buying fewer potatoes and more convenience products’, says Ruben and his father Bart Nemegheer. At the Aldi stores in Belgium it has recently become possible to buy dishes from De Aardappelhoeve with washed baby potatoes and sauce. ‘Just shake and 8 minutes in the microwave. Ready! We tested and held tastings at Interpom and that went down well’, says Ruben. Another branch of the convenience tree comes from the organic segment. These are blanched potatoes, or pre-cooked potatoes that can be kept for two or three weeks without further additives. De Aardappelhoeve doesn’t do the pre-cooking in-house, they only package the washed potatoes. The Nemegheer family sees the cultivation of organic potatoes professionalising rapidly and contracts out an everincreasing part of its requirements within Belgium. ‘The part that we purchase in the Netherlands is shrinking. Customers like to see a Belgian product. However, from April until the new harvest, we will continue to depend on distant destinations. The dry season of 2018 has not led to major problems for the family business. ‘We have, of course, irrigated a lot in our own cultivation. But usually we can still deliver all the products, sometimes with minor adjustments to the assortment. That’s the advantage of long-term relationships; you can help each other in difficult years.’ ● Egbert Jonkheer Potato World 2019 • number 2 35 Pagina 34

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