As a knock-on effect of Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns around the world, consumer demand for frozen fruits and vegetables has soared. One company that has managed to successfully ride the wave of increased product demand is Yenişehir/Bursa, Turkey-headquartered Fine Food.
The family-owned enterprise reports that it has not ceased production or indeed delayed global export operations for a single day so far this year. The company attributes this resilience to the technological edge that it retains over competitors.
“We are the only business with Bühler’s SORTEX FA series machines in Turkey, and we believe that puts us in a very strong position in the market,” said Mehmet Berk Goztepe, Find Food’s export sales representative.
Established in 1994, the company has over 200 employees working at three factories in the country’s Marmara region; a new facility dedicated exclusively to the production of frozen french fries is currently under construction in the Emirdağ district.
Fine Food has a portfolio of approximately 20 IQF fruit and vegetable products, 12 of which are vegetables that are either grown and harvested on at its own lands, or by contract farmers around Yenişehir and Bursa provinces. Upward of 70-80 million kilograms of sweet corn, green beans, peas, spinach, strawberries and cherries are processed by the company each year.
Traditional yet Innovative
Fine Food upholds a strong family-focused ethos with members of the Goztepe family educated and exposed to all aspects of the business from a young age. Yet while the company may be traditional in values, it is ahead of the curve when it comes to modern flexibility, as urgent orders can be processed in just one day.
“With 11 sorters in total, our sorting infrastructure is far more advanced than others, something that not many Turkish processors can say,” remarked Goztepe, adding that a majority of this equipment comes from Bühler.
A Mutual Alliance
The company began its relationship with Bühler by adding SORTEX E1D optical sorting machines to its portfolio. The equipment features high-resolution cameras and proprietary detection technologies to ensure maximum food safety.
The E1D’s double-sided detection of color, shape and size enables quick and easy removal of subtle to gross color defects, insect damage, blemishes and foreign materials (FM) such as glass, plastic and stones that the company was previously struggling to efficiently and consistently remove.
The next investment went to purchasing the high-capacity SORTEX FA2 machine, which has an FDA-approved adjustable 1200-mm chute.
“In addition to the higher capacity, I also like the FA2’s improvement of the LED lighting functionality,” said Goztepe. “The lights stay bright throughout their entire lifecycle, meaning there is no worry about having to frequently replace them.”
Furthermore, the easy adaptability of the machines to handle various IQF commodities allows for greater flexibility and control in the company’s day-to-day processing regime.
Exports and Hygiene
The FA2 machines are specially designed to meet the stringent product safety requirements of Western Europe and the USA. Thus, with 70% of its output exported to international markets including Europe, North America, the Balkans, the Middle East and East Asia, Fine Food trusts that the needs of buyers will be satisfied and that a superior quality and consistent final product will be delivered without fail.
Cleaning the machines is easy thanks to the open and accessible design of the stainless steel frame and sloped surfaces. With virtually no product build-up, there is a very low risk of contamination. “This keeps us feeling confident that we’re always adhering to the toughest hygiene and food safety standards, ” said Goztepe.
SORTEX PolarVision Edge
The FA2 machines are also equipped with Bühler’s SORTEX PolarVision detection system, which combines two pioneering technologies for unmatched FM removal: PolarCam and high definition InGaAs cameras.
“This technology came as a huge advantage for us for FM removal, particularly in the case of snails,” said Goztepe. “It has also proved very useful in detecting any extraneous vegetable matter (EVM) and color differences. We now eagerly await the upcoming wet season. This is when we expect to find the most EVM in peas, we’ll be able to see the full strength of the SORTEX PolarVision technology.”
Gurhan Nergizoglu, sales manager for Bühler’s local Turkish sales agent Atomika, commented: “One of the main reasons Fine Food opted for the FA2 was to be able to detect and remove snails, black plastic and other FM. For this reason our SORTEX PolarVision technology really appealed to them.”
After the optical sorters were integrated by Bühler’s service engineers, Goztepe was pleased to report that now “99% of the time our machines only need to sort a batch once.” This helps assure that Fine Foods’ final products meet the highest international quality standards without the need for multiple sorts, thus reducing energy, saving time and improving the bottom line.
Conducting business for 160 years and active in 140 countries around the world, the Bühler Group operates a global network of 32 manufacturing sites, 98 service stations and 26 application centers. The Swiss family-owned business employs approximately 12,800 people and generated turnover of CHF 3.3 billion in 2019.