AGRO Merchants Vineland, in partnership with one of its largest customers (LGS), has made a significant investment in an eight-lane optical grader. This will provide the company with the ability to grade citrus, avocados, and other commodities.

This technology utilizes an array of cameras to photograph individual pieces of fruit, analyze defects, and grade the fruit accordingly. It is used extensively in many farming and packing operations throughout the world, and in Vineland, it will support the goal of using a consistent method to grade fresh produce.

AGRO associates will place individual cases of product on a conveyor. These cases will then be automatically dumped onto inspection belts and discharged to a conveyor where produce is funnelled into single lanes. The fruit is then picked up by cups that weigh and rotate the individual pieces of fruit for a 360-degree view for the cameras. The cameras take up to 300 images of a single piece of fruit in different light wavelengths. The fruit is then graded and discharged to packing, grade B, or waste (cull) lanes, while the system captures and reports the fruit weight to each area.

Following the grading process, the fruit is then dispensed into conveyors that feed bagging equipment, where the fruit is weighed and bagged into retail-ready packaging, and then packed into cases to ship to retail DCs – providing a fully integrated solution for our customer.

Liz Lund, Managing Director of Vineland, said, “The optical grader will promote Vineland’s operation  ahead of our competition and continue to make us a  packer of choice for our current  and future customers.  The massive, positive momentum that the optical grader has brought to our workforce and to our upcoming citrus season has elevated our ambition and desire to perform.  As a team, we are proud of the large investment that the company has made for our customers and our business.”