SORTEX optical sorting technology, from Bühler Inc., Minneapolis, is helping berry supplier Blåtand AB drive efficiency in processing wild berries.

Blåtand AB, Sweden, supplies high-quality frozen berries, jams and fruit preparations, including deep-blue bilberries and bright-red lingonberries to caterers, restaurants, wholesalers and retailers out of its quality assured, ISO 22000-certified facility. Blåtand AB also prides itself on environmentally-friendly, ethical production that meets the highest of standards across the entire chain, from forest to customer.

In addition to retail markets, there is growing demand for berries in the wider food and pharmaceutical industries. Blåtand is a key supplier to confectionery, bakery and dairy markets, as well as the pharmaceutical sector, which uses bilberries as a key ingredient in supplements to help treat eye problems such as macular degeneration and retina detachment.

“We work constantly on our quality control procedures to ensure that the products we supply meet the highest quality standards,” says Ulf Hagner, managing director at Blåtand. “We need to ensure the separation of color defects, such as brown berries as well as the removal of stones, sticks, leaves, pine needles and mud balls, which are collected from the forest floor as the berries are gathered.” 

Blåtand processes approximately 5,000 tons of berries on its 50-meter processing line, which is designed to handle delicate fruits without breakage. The addition of the SORTEX F optical sorter with PolarVision technology enables Blåtand to increase capacity and fulfil Hagner’s ambition to grow the business.

“Our goal was to create the best berry cleaning process on the market, making it possible to produce a high-quality, Class 1 product that is free from foreign material (FM). By combining the SORTEX F PolarVision optical sorter with our other cleaning equipment, we have achieved our goal and can now fulfil the requirements of the most demanding customers by supplying them with the highest quality frozen, cleaned berries,” adds Hagner. 

“SORTEX PolarVision technology combines two dedicated FM detection cameras – the SORTEX PolarCam and high definition InGaAs, which remove difficult-to-detect defects and challenging FM, such as plastic, pieces of wet wood and small stones,” says Zhanna Zhehet, area sales manager at Bühler Sweden. “Importantly for Blåtand, SORTEX PolarVision is installed on the new SORTEX F optical sorter, which is hygienically-designed for zero tolerance for product buildup, meaning there’s a much lower risk of product contamination. It also consumes less energy—in line with Blåtand’s environmental commitment.”

Bühler’s technology has helped Blåtand to increase the yield of its premium berries, boasting consistency in shape, flavor and color – a hallmark of Blåtand quality, along with second-to-none food safety.

“A complete, high-tech facility paves the way for processing huge quantities of berries to produce a top-quality product with exacting food safety standards. Now, with Bühler’s help, we are confident of building our global customer base, while maintaining our unsurpassed reputation and product quality,” says Hagner.