Verduyn is a Belgium-based fresh produce supplier delivering fresh vegetables from its 3,500 hectares of agricultural land for wholesale distribution and producers of ready-made meals.

After installing TOMRA Sorting Food’s Halo sorting machine, Verduyn realizes the machine’s many benefits, including significant labor reduction, increased yields and improved product quality. 

Verduyn has two main business components. First, it turns harvested vegetables into semi-processed products, which are mainly used for the frozen and tinned goods market. Secondly, Verduyn buys local vegetables and sells them to companies that offer products not grown in their country or region.

“Our services range from planting seeds to delivering a finished product to our customers,” says Alexander Verduyn, chief executive officer of Verduyn. “This is what differentiates us from other companies. Everything starts from the agriculture and is enhanced by our modern production facilities.”

The carrot is at the root of Verduyn’s business with crops washed, sorted and chopped for delivery in its Kortemark, Belgium, plant. The production line has an input of 55 tons per hour and an output of 40 tons per hour. The carrots are washed at a rate of 20 tons per hour and packed at a rate of 30 tons per hour; this is all done automatically using brush washers and optical sorting machines.

“As one of the biggest carrot specialists in Europe, we offer a vast selection of quality carrots for various purposes,” adds Verduyn. “Flexibility and fast reactions are two mantras we live by at Verduyn. Our huge scale processing allows us to react at the drop of a hat and help our customers in short notice. We believe in perfection and demand nothing less from our partners. This also means we keep close track of all technological innovations that automate our processing line.”

When the sorting machine Verduyn initially installed failed to live up to its expectations, he investigated his options and discovered TOMRA Sorting Food Americas, West Sacramento, Calif.

“The first time I saw a TOMRA sorting machine in operation, I was so impressed by the results that I contacted the company and requested a demonstration of its carrot sorting machine—the Halo 1000,” says Verduyn. “Over a period of time, I visited TOMRA’s test and demonstration center in Leuven, Belgium, three times, and although the results were convincing, I requested additional evaluation, as I wanted to see the results of its Halo when it was up and running at my company. When we were pleased with the results, we decided to partner with TOMRA Sorting Food.”

“I was very impressed with the way TOMRA kept to the installation timetable,” adds Verduyn. “Within three days, the machine was up and running. Our operators received a 2-day training session, and the TOMRA service engineer was on hand to support anyone who needed additional help. One week after the installation, we received a weekly half-day check to ensure everything was still as expected. We can always count on TOMRA for remote service control. No worries, no misery. It really is an exceptional service.”

“Although TOMRA’s Halo is an all-in-one sorting machine, we mainly use it for separating the good carrots from the bad. The Halo extracts misshapen carrots or carrots with black spots and also identifies foreign material such as plastic, wood, corncobs and potatoes,” he adds. “Another benefit is that the sorting machine can sort on length. We are able to separate the small carrots from the long ones, enabling us to deliver a customized product to our customers.”

Alexander says that his production volume has also gone up since installing TOMRA’s Halo sorting machine. And, the most important thing is accuracy.

“It’s very easy to sort a bad batch of carrots, but the job gets trickier if you have a large batch of good carrots with a few minor defects. TOMRA has understood this specific requirement, making the Halo a great value machine,” says Verduyn. “A nice addition to TOMRA’s Halo is the fact that it’s silent. If our employees that work closely with the machines are finding they must wear headphones every day due to noisy machinery, it doesn’t make for a good working environment.”

“Some believe that TOMRA’s sorting machines are more expensive than other sorters on the market, but that’s not necessarily true. Investing in a sorting machine is always going to be substantial, but if you are to invest wisely, you need to select a high-quality sorting machine that fulfils your needs, and that is what Verduyn has done with TOMRA Sorting Food’s Halo sorting machine,” he adds.