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Mandarins for princes.

Mandarins for Princes

Much earlier this year Princes relaunched their range of canned fruits. Princes canned fruits have increased in volume of sales by at least two and a half times since 1982. To sustain this growth, all their canned fruits are now either Choice or even Fancy quality. This further upgrading of their range has been achieved by strict buying and quality control. In line with market trends, they have increased the number of varieties packed in juice. These are now identified by green coding on the packs. The range includes the familiar fruit cocktail, peach slices and six sizes and types of pineapple and additionally peach halves, mandarins, apricots and pineapple chunks - these four items are new. New to the `in syrup' range are 425g cans of mandarins and two sizes of pineapple chunks. As well as new colour coding for each range, the redesigned packaging includes the clear statement `no additives', where applicable, nutritional information and illustrated recipes.

With their extensive worldwide sourcing experience, built up over the course of the last century, the company are able to purchase the finest fruit varieties. For instance, their peaches come from Northern Greece, Bulida and Caninos apricots from Spain, Williams Bon-Cretian pears and Morgan Duft apples from Northern Italy, black ring cherries from Canada and Napoleon cherries from Turkey. For pineapples, they use Cayenne and Queen varieties from Thailand, and their mandarins are Fancy quality Satsuma varieties from Spain.

Having said that quality control is all important, we were given the opportunity of seeing for ourselves how one of their major suppliers canned mandarins for them in Spain. The company concerned is Jose Hernandez Perez e Hijos SA and the cannery we saw is outside Murcia.

Locally grown fruit arrives at the factory in plastics boxes and these are conveyed to a tilting mechanism to empty fruit on to a roller conveyor which effectively removes leaves and stalks. No fewer than eight lanes are used to handle the volume of fruit which passes from dump bins to the blancher. A knife system is used to serrate the skins to allow a roller peeler to remove them. Some hand trimming may be necessary at this point before mandarins are carried by a gooseneck elevators to the rows of segmenting machines. Fruit is fed into cups that are criss-crossed by rubber bands and water pressure is used to push whole peeled fruit through the rubber bands to separate the segments. The water stream carrying the segments passes over an oscillating screening unit which separates single segments, whilst the doubles and clusters are passed back to the segmenter for retreatment or even to an additional peeler.

The deskinning system utilizes an acid/alkali technique. An extended trough system that is both stacked and coiled to save space carries fruit gently along in dilute hydrochloric acid and a second trough system is used to neutralize the acid with an alkali rinse. The trough system in each tower is around 1500m in length and the transit time for the two treatments is about 40 minutes. Effectively, the acid softens the skins and the lye is used to dissolve the skins. The next step is to grade the segments for size and this is achieved by a series of grading belts so that up to fifteen different sizes can be separated before final visual inspection and filling into cans using a steam-flow closure technique. Filling is achieved by sliding the segments into each can as it arrives under a retracting slide. When the can has been filled correctly the trap again moves forward and catches falling segments. It then retracts again when the next can arrives by conveyor from the overhead runway. A checkweighing technique is used to ensure that cans are correctly filled. In-can pasteurization is carried out by conveying cans along in hot water for the required period of time and they return underneath the pasteurising bath in a cooling trough. Rods across this bath ensure that cans roll along then a shower system completes the cooling. Next the cans pass an ink jet coder that identifies the batch, size, variety, etc.

Following coding, the cans enter the warehouse and transfer to one of seven palletisers. When a layer has been completed, a magnetic lift is used to stack them after a layer pad has been inserted. For labelling, the cans are depalletised, run through a spiral before entering the roll-through unit that incorporates a label checker. Hot melt glue is used and, after checking, the cans are trayed to suit Princes requirements. Cans are collated into trays and these are arranged in three tiers automatically before shrinkwrapping. Hand palletisation is used at this stage. The company also process larger A10 size cans and these they retort in baskets. Again a steam-flow closure technique is used and an air knife dryer to ensure that cans are dry before warehousing.

Quality control is the main criteria by which this factory works and right at the heart of the factory is the quality control laboratory. Here immediate checks are carried out on parameters like can seams, drained weights, liquor for strength, fill weights and the percentage of broken segments. More extensive facilities are available elsewhere because this is a large plant covering some 40,000sq m and even their new warehouse is close to 7000sq m in area.

PHOTO : An aerial view of the Las Torres cannery

PHOTO : Mandarin preparation area

PHOTO : Final inspection belts for mandarin oranges

PHOTO : The factory quality control laboratory
COPYRIGHT 1989 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Princes canned fruit
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Aug 1, 1989
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