The life cycle of fruit begins in the field and develops in the trees until it is harvested, but… what happens next?
The fruit needs to go through certain processes that are carried out in the fruit and vegetable plants to manage, control and reorganise the orders from the different clients so that they arrive in the right conditions. To do this, the fruit must go through a series of processes with a specific order and characteristics that facilitate maximum efficiency in terms of time without losing the quality of the product. Although these processes are quite extensive, there are several key steps that define what is called the flow chart, these steps in stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, flat peaches, etc., are as follows:
1- Reception: the fruit is unloaded from the field, it is weighed and a quality control is carried out.
2- Storage: this is done in cold storage to reduce respiration and natural ripening of the fruit in order to extend the shelf life of the food.
3- Dumping and pre-sorting: the fruit is dumped on the line and a first selection is made of fruit that is not suitable for marketing.
4- Washing with water and brushing
5- Calibration: a machine is used to measure the size of the fruit, usually by diameter or weight of the fruit.
6- Packaging: distribution of the fruit in packages according to the client’s order (entry of auxiliary material: nets, boxes…) and quality control in line.
7- Labelling: marking of the boxes according to customer requirements.
8- Refrigeration: lowering the temperature of the product to slow down its natural ripening and extend its shelf life.
9. Dispatch: when the fruit is loaded onto the lorry that will transport it to its final destination.
It is essential that all parts of the process work perfectly because, for example, if the cold chain fails, large quantities of product can be lost, if pieces that are not in good condition are not sorted, a product of poor quality will be delivered, as well as the calibration that needs to have the weight and size indicated by the client or the labelling that also depends on the agreed conditions.