WENATCHEE, Wash. – “This is huge” is often the first words that come out of people’s mouths when they see Stemilt Grower’s new cherry line, the Ultimate Cherry Line. Adoption of this high-tech packing line offers more flexibility to the cherry grower through automated packaging options and increased capacity for moving volume.
“We call it the Ultimate cherry line because it’s our largest and longest cherry line yet,” states Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s communications manager. “There are 32 lanes of optical sizing and sorting that will be able to push both dark-sweet and Rainier/Skylar Rae® cherries through so we can get more out the door in less time.”
While other lines at Stemilt also have the flexibility in handling both dark-sweet and light varieties, the Ultimate cherry line is capable of packing both cherry types at once.
“As the Ultimate line reaches full capacity with 48 lanes in the near future, we will be able to pack dark-sweet and light varieties simultaneously on parallel lines,” says Shales. “This gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility and unique position in the industry.”
This flexibility is going to allow Stemilt to not only run multiple varieties, but also pack various types of consumer packs. The line comes with three automated clam fillers to pack UPC scannable clamshells, and pack and seal the up-and-coming top seal packages.
Another feature of the Ultimate line is its ability to adjust the level of cushion it provides to different cherry varieties. This is especially important to light-hued varieties that are more susceptible to bruising. At the front of the line, Stemilt has added an automated dumper for light varieties.
“The automated dumper is incredibly efficient at taking lugs of cherries and gently getting them on the packing line,” says Shales. “It also brings lugs to sanitization, allowing for their quick return to the field to be used again in harvest.”
The Ultimate cherry line also has in-line hydrocooling that will ultimately push cherries out the door quicker. Cherries tend to warm up on packing lines, but the in-line hydrocooling allows finished cherry packages to come off the line close to the ideal shipping temperature. This shortens and possibly eliminates the jet cooling process cherries go through prior to shipment.
The Ultimate cherry line has been in the works since spring 2018. With the new addition of the Fresh Cube, Stemilt’s state-of-the-art distribution center, the company was able to capture existing space from its previous shipping facility to house the new cherry packing line.
“The Ultimate cherry line is all about getting the cherries from the field to the box quickly and with high attention to quality,” says Shales. “Cherries are very perishable fruits and we want retailers and consumers to benefit from getting them at maximum freshness. That’s how we fulfill our mission of delighting consumers with our World Famous Cherries.”
Stemilt Growers is a leading tree fruit growing, packing and shipping company based in Wenatchee, Washington. Owned and operated by the Mathison family, Stemilt is the leading shipper of sweet cherries and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of organic tree fruits. Stemilt has also demonstrated a commitment to sustainable agriculture and social responsibility since 1989, when founder Tom Mathison launched the company’s Responsible Choice program. For more information about Stemilt, visit www.stemilt.com and follow Stemilt on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and You Tube.