SORTEX Optical Sorter Does ‘Berry Good’ Job for Blåtand

Blåtand AB, a producer of frozen berries and jams for the industrial, catering and retail sectors, has installed Bühler’s SORTEX F optical sorter with PolarVision at its factory in Stöde, Sweden, to ensure consistency in shape, flavor and color of deep-blue bilberries, bright-red ligonberries, golden cloudberries and other hand-picked forest fruit.

Wild berry varieties are increasingly in demand around the world, as consumers turn to them for both flavor and nutrients. In Europe, according to research published by Rabobank last year, consumption is on track to mirror the commercial success of the fruit in the USA, where the healthy image of berries has helped make them the highest-value fresh produce category in retail stores. Sales value has topped $5.6 billion per annum.

With a sweet taste while low in sugar, bilberries are regarded as the “shining star of Swedish super berries,” as they contain a very high percentage of antioxidants that help protect the body against free radical damage.

Lingonberries on the conveyer prior to sorting 300Lingonberries on the conveyor prior to sorting.Lingonberries, which also have beneficial antioxidants that boost human health and strengthen one’s immune system, are loaded with vitamins E, K and C.

Rich in fiber, Omega-3, iron and calcium, cloudberries are high in vitamin C, which helps the body to absorb iron from food and contributes to the formation of cartilage and bone tissue.

In addition to the retail sector, there is growing demand for berries in the wider food and pharmaceutical industries. Blåtand is a key supplier to confectionery, bakery and dairy producers, as well as the pharmaceutical segment that uses bilberries as a key ingredient in supplements to help treat eye problems such as macular degeneration and retina detachment.

Ulf hagner bilberries 300Managing Director Ulf Hagner examines fresh-picked bilberries before processing at the Blåtand freezing facility.“We work constantly on our quality control procedures, to ensure that the products we supply meet the highest quality standards,” said Ulf Hagner, managing director at Blåtand. “We need to ensure the separation of color defects such as brown berries, as well as the removal of stones, sticks, leaves, pine needles and mud balls, which are collected from the forest floor as the berries are gathered.” 

Blåtand packs approximately 5,000 tons of berries at its ISO 22000-certified facility, which has a 50-meter processing line designed to handle delicate fruits without breakage. Prior to processing, berries are flash-frozen and stored at -22°C.

The addition of the SORTEX F optical sorter with PolarVision technology enables the company to increase capacity and fulfill Hagner’s ambition to further grow the business.

SORTEX Polar Vision 300The SORTEX PolarVision™ technology platform is a sophisticated foreign material detection system. Inspecting the equipment in action at the Blåtand factory with Managing Director Ulf Hagner are Stefano Bonacina, Bühler’s segment development manager, and Zhanna Zhehet , area sales manager for Sweden.“Our goal was to create the best berry cleaning process possible to produce a Class 1 product that is free from foreign material (FM). By combining the SORTEX F PolarVision optical sorter with our other cleaning equipment, we can now fulfill requirements of the most demanding customers by supplying them with the highest quality frozen, cleaned berries,” said Hagner.

Zhanna Zhehet, area sales manager at Bühler Sweden, added: “The technology platform combines two dedicated foreign material detection cameras – the SORTEX PolarCam and high definition InGaAs, which remove difficult to detect defects and challenging FM, such as plastic, pieces of wet wood and small stones. Importantly for Blåtand, SORTEX PolarVision is installed on the new SORTEX F optical sorter, which is hygienically designed for zero-tolerance for product build-up, meaning there’s a much lower risk of product contamination. It also consumes less energy, which is in-line with Blåtand’s environmental commitment.”

About Bühler and Blåtand

Buhler logoBased in London, England, Bühler UK is a unit of the Bühler Group, a family-owned food processing equipment and advanced materials technology company with annual turnover of approximately CHF 2.45 billion. Headquartered in Uzwil, Switzerland, it employs 10,640 people in over 140 countries around the world.

In business for more than 30 years, Blåtand AB was named after Harald Blåtand (Bluetooth), the legendary Viking king. Blue teeth are, of course, to be expected when partaking of Swedish bilberries! The parallels between the Viking times and the Blåtand of today are reflected in the company’s logo design, which depicts a mythical creature with horns doing battle with a snake.