Pluckr, a machine that uses ultrasonic vibrations to rapidly de-bunch grapes without damaging them, has won the Food Valley Award 2014. The machine was developed by JFPT/foodlife and TOP.
“Winning this prize is fantastic,” says Patrick Jansen of JFTP/foodlife.
“It’s a real perk to continue to innovate. Launching a new technology and finding markets for it is quite a challenge. No doubt winning the Food Valley Award is going to make a difference.”
Wouter de Heij of TOP adds: “We are incredibly proud of the fruit of our partnership. Winning this award is the cherry on the cake. And it shows that innovative technologies can help increase profit margins in the sector. We are happy to be contributing to that.”
The new grape de-buncher is a compact piece of equipment featuring 3-12 heads, each of which consists of a small, stainless steel gripper and a vibration system.
Depending on the number of heads, Pluckr can de-bunch 300-600 kilos of fruit per hour. By comparison, the top speed of manual de-bunching is 20 kilos per hour.
The equipment is unique in its use of ultrasonic vibrations combined with the multidirectional drive technology. Grapes are gently shaken off their stems and stay whole, while on existing systems the fruit suffers damage from being ‘massaged’ off the stalks. An additional benefit is that the machine can easily be combined with another new technology for packaging the loose grapes in a modified atmosphere that extends their shelf life to 3 or 4 weeks.
In its praise for Pluckr, the Food Valley Award judges’ panel said: “We are impressed with the amount of research and development that went into this innovation. Thanks to their intensive collaboration, JFPT/foodlife and TOP successfully developed and combined new technologies into a single machine. We believe the de-stemmer has considerable market potential because of its wider applicability and offers great benefits to the fruit and vegetable processing industry. These considerations convinced us to crown the Pluckr the 2014 Food Valley Award winner.”
This is the 10th year that Food Valley NL has presented the Food Valley Award. An independent panel of experts has judged the entries on their innovativeness, economic viability, originality and degree of collaboration. The other nominees considered for this year’s prize were the biodegradable, isothermal champagne packaging developed by PaperFoam and Veuve Clicquot, and fresh, chilled, pressure-treated baby food by Pit-Foodconcepts.