Tomra Food has published an e-book to help nut processors address underlying operational challenges, which has intensified due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new 15-page publication, downloadable from Tomra Foods’ website, highlights how some nut processing challenges are longstanding but others are new and unprecedented. Not least, market trends and climate change threaten to shake-up the industry.
The e-book explains why the global demand for nuts is increasing, and how this is placing processors under pressure to achieve higher throughputs. The e-book also looks at how processors, in apparent contradiction to their need for speed, are also expected to raise product quality because of the heightened expectations of consumers and retailers.
This shift towards higher quality specifications is at the heart of another conflict of objectives – processors are simultaneously expected to contain costs, particularly now that global economies are impacted by the pandemic. And in yet another conflict, labour, water and energy are all becoming more expensive.
Labour and water are also becoming increasingly scarce. As workers in developing nations find themselves with more options, many become unreliable or opt out of manual labour jobs. And as climate change alters rainfall patterns and water availability, growing and harvesting seasons are disrupted in ways which require processors to operate with more agility.
A further challenge is food safety standards. Always vital, these are now under even greater scrutiny because consumers are increasingly aware of allergens, pathogen, and aflatoxins – and of their power, through social media platforms, to broadcast any dissatisfaction with product standards.
These challenges are remarkable for their breadth, but so too are the capabilities of sorting machines. As the e-book observes in its concluding section, sorting technologies can now do more than detect and remove unwanted materials from processing lines. Sorting machines also reduce labour dependency, reduce water usage, minimise food waste to maximise yields, enable traceability, and help processors optimise productivity and profits.