Whether it’s apples, potatoes, carrots, oranges, onions or fresh-cut fruit, Newtec’s weighing experts are confident that they have the solution to weigh your fresh produce in the most accurate, reliable and gentle way. The company’s technical sales head, Christian Villadsen, spoke to packaging-gateway.com about the demands of fruit and vegetable weighing, the current and future trends in the market and how to achieve the perfect packhouse.
What are some of the main demands from your clients in the fruit and vegetable industry pertaining to weighing equipment?
Some of the main demands are things like speed, gentle product handling, the accuracy of the portions and flexibility in terms of being able to handle a range of different products and different kinds of packaging materials. Some customers, for instance, want to run three different products and containers in one day. Our job is to make this process as seamless as possible and ensure that the time required to change tools is minimal. But definitely gentle product handling is one of the key demands from our customers. To ensure top-quality produce reaches the end consumer in perfect condition, gentle product handling is indeed essential, especially while high speed is also in demand and important for the efficiency of the customer’s production.
What are a few of the best ways to improve the current weighing solutions in a packhouse?
It depends where the customers are coming from. If they are coming from a world where everything is packed manually, which we see in some markets and in some packhouses, then obviously implementing an automatic weighing line will be a huge improvement.
Often, we also see customers who already have weighing and packing equipment but then we take their production to a higher level in close cooperation. We do upgrades of their lines and add more weighers to offer them more flexibility, more accuracy and more speed. Furthermore, we improve the way they handle their products, always focusing on quality, to make sure that the outcome is marketable and profitable end products.
Can you tell me about some of your company’s most proficient and popular weighing machines for the fruit and vegetable industry?
Yes, we have many popular weighing machines. We now have more than 15,000 installations all over the world and we have made weighing machines for all kinds of products over the last 40 years. It really depends on the market because what we see in America is that everything should be bigger, so in the American market our bestseller is a model called 4014XB1, which is a machine that is able to handle large products and large portion sizes, still with a high capacity.
In Europe, it’s more smaller machines. In general, it’s our newest range of machines, which include the 4015B2 and 4009B2. The 2008PCM Mini Weigher, which is used for weighing small portions of processed frozen or snack products, is also a very popular model, not only in Europe but also as far out as South Korea. But again, it depends on the market that we have. We have machines for all products and all portion sizes; we can match whatever request we are getting. 70% of our completed projects are in fact customised.
What are some of the international trends for weighing machines?
Well, we see that in general it’s the portion sizes that are getting smaller and smaller. What we see is that when you buy a bag of potatoes or carrots, you will only buy a pack that will last for a few days to minimise the waste of food. So the portion sizes are decreasing and also we see a growing demand for machines that can give you a higher throughput in a smaller footprint, so the machine should be more compact and faster so the customer can get more product out on a smaller footprint in the packhouse.
What criteria are important and necessary to consider when choosing the model of a Newtec weighing machine?
We always take the starting point in the product itself. If it’s a machine for carrots we’ll choose a model that is optimised for carrots, if it’s a machine for potatoes or for oranges we’ll do the same. Then there’s the portion size and the type of packaging, as well as how many different packaging machines should be connected to the Newtec weighing machine. But the starting point is always the product so that we can make sure we handle the product the right way to make it a high-end product.
How do you believe the market will continue to evolve in the near to mid-term future?
I think that we will see a growing demand for special solutions where we mix different products. We’ve seen that it’s a growing trend, especially here in Europe now and I’m sure it will come in other markets as well. It could be a mix of root vegetables, for example carrots and parsnips. It requires a special solution where we combine different weighing machines to one solution, which can mix the different products into the same pack.
Packaging is currently a very hot topic in relation to its environmental impact, and I believe that we will also see increasing requirements for sustainable options such as cardboard punnets.
And again, we will also see that the portion sizes will get smaller and smaller. 15 to 20 years ago we made a lot of machines for 15kg, 20kg, 25kg packs, but now the machines are made for 500g up to 3kg. No doubt the convenience products are here to stay and the demand will continue to grow.
And do you think that Newtec is well-placed to meet those future trends?
Absolutely. Our product range can cover nearly everything, I would say. We have a wide range of machines, which can cover all kinds of products and all kinds of portion sizes and we have also made some clever solutions for these mixing machines, so we are definitely well prepared for new demands and sustainable options within the packaging industry.