FirstFruits Marketing of Washington, Yakima, Wash., completed the installation of a new packing line and automated palletizing system at Broetje Orchards in Prescott, Wash.

The new additions improve the handling of fruit to ensure apples arrive in high-quality condition and maintain a longer shelf life at retail. The new systems also include improvements to the cold chain process to keep apples chilled from harvest to arrival.

“Three packing lines combined with an automated palletizing system makes us more efficient and capable of meeting the needs of our diverse customer base,” says Chuck Zeutenhorst, general manager. “And, with a new dedicated line for organics, we have the ability to provide the right varietal mix when our retail partners need it.”

The new facility also includes upgrades to a variety of elements to improve both the packaging process and the work environment for employees.

“We designed a state-of-the-art packing facility with features that benefit both apples and people,” says Jim Hazen, general manager of Broetje Orchards. “Our new facility addresses the latest in food safety concerns and offers a clean-room drop ceiling, enhanced lighting and an air circulation system that offers a comfortable work environment all year long.”

The new packing line and automated systems will begin operation for use during the upcoming 2017-2018 apple season.

CLICK HERE to watch a video about the new technology under construction.