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JBT to showcase Fresh Produce Technologies innovation

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From residue-free fruit labels to automatic scrubbers that can clean fruit bins vertically, JBT has introduced a wide range of Fresh Produce Technology innovations over recent months that will be highlighted at upcoming trade events, including Fruit Logistica 2019 in Berlin, Germany from February 6-8. 

The range has also been significantly expanded over the past 12 months following the acquisition of FTNON, a specialist in equipment for preparing fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.

Christina Campos, JBT’s General Manager for Fresh Produce Technologies (FPT), explains that JBT focuses on three principal product lines: preservation; produce identification; and equipment and aftermarket parts. On the preservation side, she says JBT provides a range of solutions, including food-grade waxes, both conventional and organic, which can boost yield and flavor, as well as aesthetics by improving the appearance. JBT also supplies mechanical and technical services that support the customer and ensure products are applied properly and consistently.

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Labeling solutions
Produce identification is a fast-developing area for JBT, encompassed by the recent launch of the Flex-ID labeling system, a print and apply solution which features print heads on each applicator so information can be added right before the label is applied. 

A particular characteristic that sets JBT label printing and application apart from competitors, Campos continues, is its use of flexible film labels which help avoid many of the difficulties associated with traditional paper labels. “You still see a lot of paper labels as a consumer and it can be frustrating to tear the label off and all the bottom layer and the adhesive stays on the fruit,” she explains. “In contrast, our labels come off the fruit very easily and leave no residue behind.”

Upright cleaning
Another recent addition is the V Series Bin Scrubber, adding to JBT’s existing range for produce growers and packers. Adding to JBT’s standard Bin Scrubber for the citrus industry and T Bin Scrubber for tall bins typically used by the nut industry, the V Series – standing for vertical – offers a unique solution to produce bin cleaning. “Usually the bins enter the scrubber and are dropped onto brushes, but with the V Series they remain upright and the brush moves up and down,” explains Campos. “The horizontal footprint of the V Series unit is narrower, so it’s a great solution for customers who are challenged with space constraints.”

The JBT FTNON Sweet Pepper Decorer

The JBT FTNON Sweet Pepper Decorer

New horizons
Perhaps the most exciting recent addition came with JBT’s acquisition of FTNON in July 2018. Marking JBT’s first venture into the fresh-cut market, FTNON specializes in preparation of fruits and vegetables for the fast growing ready-to-eat segment. “We wanted to get into the fresh-cut market and FTNON has allowed us to do that,” says Campos. “There’s a lot to learn, but it’s something we’re excited about.”

She adds: “There’s a lot to be gained because we have a global footprint, with sales and service in many parts of the world, whereas FTNON was limited in terms of its market access. There’s also a lot of synergies with JBT in terms of the pet food and ready meals markets.”

JBT and FTNON will be exhibiting in Hall 3.1, Stand D-03 at Fruit Logistica 2019 from February 6-8 in Berlin, Germany.

FLEX-ID: The labeling system that improves traceability and saves time

JBT’s FLEX-ID Labeling System is a high-speed, innovative solution for fruit and vegetable producers that can boost efficiency and improve traceability. With pressure on producers to trim costs while at the same time tackling the threat of food-related illnesses, the system is not only a highly-efficient labeling option, but also a means of tracking down problematic shipments.

JBT Product Development Engineer Jonathan Stokes, who was involved in the development of the system, explains that FLEX-ID helps obtain variable and trackable data on an individual piece of fruit. It is also able to reach the labeling speeds that customers are looking to achieve.

Instead of a typical speed of 600-700 pieces of fruit – or cups – per minute, FLEX-ID can label 1,000 pieces of fruit per minute, which Stokes describes as being at the “really high end” of what labeling systems are able to reach.

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Effective traceability
However, FLEX-ID’s ability to deliver a flexible, user-friendly labeling system is the key selling point for the technology. Enabling customers to create their own label layout, FLEX-ID helps keep track of where individual produce originated from by adding in a lot code, as well as standard data such as the Price Look-Up (PLU) code and quantity. 

“Our system keeps track of the lots,” Stokes explains. “Let’s say it’s December 14 and you are running lemons, and four months later, someone gets sick. They can track down the lemon which made the person sick to the batch and a particular time, and that’s what gets recalled.”

With an estimated 48 million people taking sick and 3,000 deaths each year in the US due to foodborne illnesses, Stokes emphasizes there is clear need for effective tracking and isolation of any potentially contaminated products.

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Time savings
FLEX-ID also allows customers to make significant time-saving and logistical savings by eliminating the need for manual replacement of labels. “Say I’m running large lemons which have their own PLU number, and then halfway through the day I switch to running small lemons with a different PLU number,” says Stokes. “Typically what happens is you have to have someone walk out to the machine, pull off those labels, grab a new cassette with the new labels, drop it on the machine, and make sure it’s all good, which all takes time.”

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“These labels are preprinted, so they don’t have any tracking information. With the FLEX-ID system, you go to your computer, change to running small lemons, add in the PLU code and the lot number and it ends the previous lot, keeping track of when that lot stopped, records the new lot and sends the new label. 

“From a logistics point of view, this also saves on having to stock rolls of 40 or 50 different labels.”

Download the JBT FLEX-ID Brochure

JBT will highlight FLEX-ID, alongside other solutions for the fresh produce sector, at Fruit Logistica 2019 from February 6-8 in Hall 3.1, Stand D-03