Green Salad, producer of vegetable semi-finished products, was founded in Saint Petersburg in 2015. The company is a key player in the segment in Northwest Russia. Among Green Salad's customers are world's largest fast food restaurants, food retailers as well as HoReCa chains. The company regularly conducts external production audits with the involvement of international industry leaders – AIB International and SGS. Its main priorities are supply of premium-quality products strictly compliant with FSSC food safety standard and constant business potential increase. A logical step in this context was the purchase of an optical sorting machine from TOMRA Food in 2018.
Green Salad currently employs 100 people. The company produces up to 10 tons of products per 1 working shift, the major volume of which is iceberg lettuce. The production line consists of a cutting machine, a TOMRA Food optical sorting machine, two tanks for product washing, salad spinners for drying, vacuum packagers and PITPACK packaging machines.
Target – high quality of products
The main target of purchasing the optical sorting machine by TOMRA Food was increase in product quality and production efficiency. The main problems as far as quality assurance is concerned was the necessity to remove green caterpillars – before implementation of TOMRA Food optical sorter this procedure was performed manually with the use of special spotlights and magnifying glasses. However, such labor costs did not ensure proper quality of sorting.
According to Viktor Philatov, founder of Green Salad, the TOMRA sorting machine fully solved this problem: "The problem with green caterpillars is that their color and consistency is very similar to those of lettuce, and manual sorting was inefficient. After installation and setup of TOMRA’s sorting machine we have been able to ensure 100 % sorting efficiency for almost a year – there have been no applications related to detection of caterpillars in supplied products from our customers during this period. In addition to caterpillars removing the optical sorter also allows to prevent product pollution caused by insertions of organic as well as nonorganic materials such as pieces of raw product packing and other plastic, metal and wood impurities. The purchase of the TOMRA sorter in this context was a kind of investment into business development in terms of customer relations as they – it particularly concerns fast food restaurants – operate under highly strict specifications, non-compliance with which may negatively affect our cooperation."
Investments into profitability
Besides quality, one of the most important issues is increase in profitability as production of vegetable products is associated with large volumes of food waste. In particular, Green Salad's annual volume of food waste varies from 15 to 40 % of the total volume of raw materials, which may exceed 50 million rubles a year in monetary terms.
According to Viktor Philatov, the TOMRA Food optical sorter enabled to decrease the total volume of food waste by 5 %: "Due to optimal parameters of the sorting setup – both by color and consistency – caterpillars, lettuce cores, lettuce with necrosis and other defects, which must not get into packages, are surely removed. At that, products fit for consumption, which were earlier often removed during manual sorting, are not removed now. Thereby, there is a real decrease in the volume of food waste, which saves millions of rubles."
TOMRA Food equipment: ease of operation and efficient service
Viktor Philatov particularly noted that the purchased sorting machine had not caused any problems as far as quickness of mastering and operation were concerned: "There is one engineer in the company who was present during installation and took a short training course. He easily operates the sorting machine as its interface is fully in Russian and really user-friendly.
As far as Green Salad's development perspectives are concerned, the company plans to implement the second production line by 2022. According to senior management, it will also be equipped with TOMRA Food sorting machine as the currently operated equipment has already proven to be a highly efficient and reliable solution during a rather short period of time; it has actually become Green Salad's competitive advantage.