Sun Valley Raisins processes a wide range of raisin varieties such as Natural Seedless Selects, Natural Thompson Seedless Midgets, Natural Thompson Seedless Mini-Midgets, Zante Currants, Golden Fancy Thompson Seedless, Flames and Organic Raisins.
The company is primarily an ingredient supplier to bakeries, cereal companies and health/snack food companies. Sun Valley Raisins exports about 45 - 55 percent of their product to Europe and Asia, while selling about 50 percent domestically.
Today, Sun Valley Raisins processes around 60 - 70 million pounds of raisins each year.
Sun Valley Raisins initially employed fifteen workers but soon expanded to sixty. In 2009 they were running one part time shift, and today they host two shifts and weekends. Their facility started off with a small shack but now they operate across 100,000 sq. ft. of warehouse, processing and packing facilities.
CONTROL OVER RAISIN QUALITY
Being a grower as well gives them the advantage of having a consistent crop and more control over their quality. Sun Valley Raisins’ goal is to take the finest quality California raisins from their field to their customers’ doorstep.
What sets Sun Valley Raisins apart is their focus on continuous improvement and new technologies to stay ahead of their competition. That’s why the family continues to invest in their company to provide better quality product, grow their customer base and meet ever increasing demands, as well as lowering their labor costs.
“We knew everything about growing grapes, but nothing about the processing and packing business. We were reliant on outside experts to help offer direction. Working with TOMRA Sorting Solutions gave us the confidence to start our own production line with the best sorting equipment the industry has to offer,” says Doug Moles, CEO Sun Valley Raisins. “The decision to work with an experiences partner such as TOMRA did not happen overnight.”
EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE RAISIN PROCESSING INDUSTRY
“We have learned that you must have a long term plan and continuously invest wisely in your business in order to stay ahead of the industry demands. That’s why we researched the processing industry heavily. We worked closely together with Valley Machine and they referred us to TOMRA. Their sales agent, M Parise Associates, has extensive knowledge of the raisin processing industry and the capabilities of the sorting equipment. He was able to help develop processes that would provide us with a very high quality product,” explains Moles.
In their original market review, Sun Valley Raisins did talk to other sorting companies but in the end they felt that there was no better partner than TOMRA, and that the experience that TOMRA’s team brought to the table was second to none.
“TOMRA was the most capable company in raisin sorting. The equipment is extremely accurate and versatile and the options we have to upgrade have given us the ability to constantly improve our quality as our customer demands and standards increase,” says Moles.
In 2009 Sun Valley Raisins started off with a single Helius laser sorter. Two years later they were ready to expand their processing line and include a second Helius sorting machine as well as an Ixus Bulk 800 sorter to help improve on their dense foreign materials such as rocks, glass and metal, guaranteeing superior food safety and quality.
The Ixus sorting machine also gives them the ability to find embedded glass and stones that are completely surrounded by good product.
REDUCE GOOD PRODUCT LOSS
Within the year, Sun Valley Raisins, Valley Machine and TOMRA had designed a recovery line to continuously source the good product from that initially rejected while the main line continued to sort. This effectively reduced the good product loss, saving Sun Valley Raisins tons of good product while also reducing the labor that would be required to monitor the good product loss.
Today, Sun Valley Raisins has just installed a new series of TOMRA sorting machines to help offer higher capacity, higher versatility and of course higher quality to their customers. The new processing line consists of Nimbus free fall laser sorters with double sided lasers, including an Advanced Foreign Material Detection (AFMD) system which allows them to achieve even higher detection results on the most difficult defects such as cap stems, stems, stalks, stones, plastic and discolorations.
Sun Valley Raisins feels that the research and groundwork they have put into their line has been a major factor in their growth and ability to offer the highest quality product even for one of the newer raisins companies in the industry. They have taken the time and made their investment into their future.
EASY TO OPERATE
“The equipment is easy to operate and the different levels of operator access allow us to restrict the operator controls to their level of expertise. TOMRA also has a team of experienced field technicians that are knowledgeable on our products and our processing line. The TOMRA facility in Sacramento has provided more resources to our team and our partnership with TOMRA is growing with our business,” adds Moles.