Australia: APAL receives grant to optimize packing operations

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Australia: APAL receives grant to optimize packing operations

Australia's pome fruit industry body APAL has received a grant from Victorian Government to help boost awareness of the cost of packing and identify ways to ways to optimise their operations. manzana-y-pera_27640276

"The real cost of packing is a bit of an unknown quantity for many growers, which makes it hard for them to identify how they could become more efficient," APAL CEO John Dollisson.

"The aim of the project is to provide growers with the financial information they need to make informed decisions about upgrades, refurbishments, starting a new packing shed on a green-field site, or, possibly, amalgamation.

"We hope that this project helps growers identify ways to continue delivering premium quality fruit but in a more efficient manner, so that they are more competitive locally and internationally as the industry looks to increase exports of apples and pears."

The Packhouse Optimisation Project will analyze the cost of packing by developing a robust financial model of growers’ packing sheds. The project will be undertaken in Victoria with learnings shared nationally.

"There are more than 100 packing sheds in Australia that pack apples and pears," Dollisson said.

"With a few notable exceptions, the equipment and machinery used is quite old and may be coming to the end of its working life.

"This older equipment is less likely to use the more modern cost-saving technological advantages such as electronic defect sorting and robotic pallet handling. Its replacement may cost several million dollars and the relatively small volumes of fruit processed may not justify the risk or the expense associated with updating the machinery."

He added growers needed reliable cost breakdowns of their operations and models to help them forecast the effects of packing shed changes so they can determine what option will work best for them.

"The industry paradigm is that packing is a profitable income stream hence the investment in smaller packing plants and the retention of these plants, but this project will dig deeper to help growers understand the full profitability and costs of their packing sheds," Dollisson said.

Thirteen growers and packers have committed to the project, but there is still limited room for a small number of additional growers or packers based in Victoria to join.


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