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Boosting Quality and Reputation of California Walnut and Almond Crops

Golden- State Growers Embrace New Ways to Improve Quality and Yields While Meeting the Strictest Food Safety Standards

18 January 2018

With their 2017 crops now harvested, a growing number of California nut farmers and food producers have shown increased reliance on new state-of-the-art sorting technology from industry leader TOMRA to boost yields, profits and food safety, company officials announced today.

Industrial automation with TOMRA nut sorting machines

“What happens between the farm and the fork is becoming a major way for California farmers to ensure the viability and success of their crops, especially almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts,” said Mark Host, TOMRA’s regional sales director for the Americas. “It also provides food producers a way to protect their reputation by effectively filtering out defects and diseases to ensure higher quality and limit consumer exposure to public health risks.”

As the global pioneer in sensor-based sorting, TOMRA continues to drive the development of more efficient sensors to enhance customer-processing lines.

California nut growers – such as Anderson & Sons Shelling, a Northern California walnut farm – are seeing the benefits of technology to improve operations.

“We have been using TOMRA laser sorters since 2005,” said Mike Andersen, Vice President of Sales for the company. “But we purchased TOMRA’s Nimbus free fall sorting machine with Biometric Signature Identification (BSI), which is a larger machine with advanced laser sorting technology.”

He said the technology allows the farm to process larger quantities of walnuts at the same time, meaning it can increase productivity and reduce any foreign material.
“Since purchasing the Nimbus BSI, we have been able to satisfy a larger customer base due to the output being of a higher quality,” he said. “Now that we have machines with both lasers and cameras, we are confident that we are picking up on foreign material that used to slip through. The BSI technology adds great value to our business.”

Another California walnut grower, Morada Nut Company, based in Linden, California, is also realizing the benefits of TOMRA’s technology.

“We turned to TOMRA because when we looked at the challenges ahead, it soon became clear that TOMRA was going to meet our high requirements and be able to achieve the quality and high throughput in a timely manner, said Scott Brown, the production manager for Morada Nut Company. “Their years of expertise led to us to develop the best sorting solution for our needs.”

Brown noted that TOMRA’s Sacramento office has become “a central hub for the walnut industry” that offers growers local support to ensure success.

“They did a fantastic job on a number of different occasions and provided us with a network of support,” he said. “We could come by at any time we wanted to ask specific questions regarding the start-up, the installation and the capabilities of the systems.”

TOMRA’s Host said that the company offers technology that features the ability to help eliminate aflatoxin from the food manufacturing process to better ensure food safety to protect consumers.

“Aflatoxin is not only a major health threat, but is also a commercial and logistical issue for many California growers who export their produce,” Host said.

TOMRA’s Detox laser utilizes a special optical design that can detect aflatoxin contamination. It works by identifying the extremely low intensity of light reflected by the aflatoxin mold and fungus in a variety of food types. The result is the removal of food that is a threat to public health, as well as meeting increasingly high quality demands from consumers.

To continue meeting the needs of its customers, TOMRA unveiled software upgrades to its ground-breaking Nimbus BSI sorter last month at The Almond Conference in Sacramento, California. The upgrades include new, user-friendly software, improved Biometric Signature Identification (BSI+) technology, more accurate mini-pitch air manifold, and more hygienic accept and reject chutes.


Topics: Nuts, News article, Equipment & Technology


Written by TOMRA Food

We design and manufacture sensor-based sorting machines and integrated post-harvest solutions for the food industry.