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TOMRA’s optical sorting machine enables Turkish business Mapeks Organics to strengthen its position as a high-qulity, high-efficiency exporter.
A pioneering leader in organic agriculture, Mapeks was founded in Izmir, Türkiye, in 1999. From its four production facilities in the country - in Bilecik, Usak, Afyon, and Malatya - the company markets 35 different organic fruits to 80 countries on seven continents. As well as exporting frozen cherries, sour cherries, apricots, and figs, Mapeks is Türkiye’s largest global exporter of organic strawberries. In fact, of the 20,000 tons of organic strawberries shipped annually from Türkiye, 10,000 tons are from Mapeks. The annual value of the company’s exports is $35m.
To ensure high product quality, food safety, and high yield, Mapeks continuously develops its facilities and invests in cutting-edge technology automation. Its latest investment, a TOMRA Blizzard optical sorting machine, has improved product quality and increased capacity.
Mustafa Memur, the Chairman of the Board of Mapeks Organics, explained: "Mapeks Organics is using use the Blizzard mostly for processing strawberries, cherries, apricots, and pomegranates. Compared to traditional manual sorting methods, the new machine is much more efficient: it now 15 minutes rather than 40 minutes to process a ton of product, which will enable Mapeks to increase its monthly production tonnage by 25%."
Mustafa Memur makes the point that consistent product quality and yield should be achieved at the same time as high production volumes. He says: "With the Blizzard we will be able to remove defective products and foreign materials from the production line, hence increasing yield. We also aim for minimizing product waste. The fact that we are going to process different products in different seasons is an important factor. We know that despite our varying product types and challenging working conditions, the Blizzard sorting machine will achieve a higher performance even in long shifts."
The Blizzard’s high-resolution cameras are combined with pulsed LED light for strong imaging contrast, achieving an accuracy close to that of sorters with laser technology. This results in the highly efficient removal from the production line of foreign materials and products with color and shape defects. And because of its compact, space-saving design, the Blizzard fits well in most production lines.
In the last 10 years, frozen fruit and vegetable production has increased in Türkiye for both the export and the domestic markets. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this growth - during this period Mapeks’ capacity has grown 50%.
Mustafa Memur observes: "The pandemic has reshaped some of our consumption habits. Foods that can be stored for longer periods without losing nutritional value, and which contain no additives, have become more popular. This means demand for frozen foods has increased, which is speeding-up the process of consumers changing their habits, especially in Türkiye. To meet the increased demand, Mapeks has increased its capacity and retained and upgraded product quality by using cutting-edge technology. We are absolutely sure that our TOMRA machine will benefit us in these areas."
TOMRA Food Türkiye’s Sales Manager for Processed Food, Bugra Bulut, said: "The sorting performance and effectiveness of the Blizzard is impressive. Unwanted product defects, foreign materials, and shape distortions are removed with such precision that waste of saleable product is minimized and yield is maximized". This is due to the intensity of the pulsed LED lights, which ensures more accurate sorting than traditionally lit machines.
"Despite difficult and sometimes dirty working conditions, the Blizzard’s performance does not deteriorate significantly over a long shift. But most importantly, the Blizzard has an unrivaled cost-yield balance. Compared to other camera-based machines, the Blizzard is more like sorting machines with camera-laser combinations. It offers an extremely cost-effective performance for IQF fruit processors."