Obviously, our eggplants travel a long way from seed to the consumer’s plate. In our previous article, we have already explained in detail the process from seed to eggplant. In this article, we explain the path the eggplant takes from the greenhouse to transportation to the customer.
The entry of machines
A lot has changed in the packing halls of eggplant farms in recent years. Where everything used to be done manually, there are now machines that lend a hand. This has quite a few advantages! This allows us to better meet customer needs and benefits our nursery staff.
From greenhouse to machine
In the greenhouse, all eggplants are cut by pad. These arrive on a self-propelled cart and are then driven to the shed. Once the cart has arrived at its destination, the eggplants are weighed in a machine. After weighing, we know exactly how many pounds of eggplants were cut from a pad.
When the batch of eggplants is weighed, it passes in crates over the buffer conveyors, then finally enters the sorting machine. All steps up to this point are fully automatic through machines.
Once the batch reaches the end of the machine, only then does manpower come back into the process! All eggplants are manually placed in a cup one at a time. *This does not happen at all Van Duijn De Jong Aubergines locations. In one location, even this is automatic.
Once the box is empty, it continues on its way back onto the machine. During this stage in the process, the crates are automatically nested. The empty crates go back on an empty cart and these then go back into the greenhouse.
From machine to packaging
Before the employees put the eggplants in the cups, they first check the quality. Eggplants of the wrong color or shape are placed on a separate belt. These are later packaged as second class products. The eggplants that are in too bad of shape go straight to the green container.
After the good eggplants are placed in the cup, they are weighed. With this input, the machine knows to which section the eggplant should be transported.
Upon customer request, we pack different grades. These end up in the proper sorting boxes based on weight class. At our locations, we pack eight different weight classes:
● <100 gr. ● 100 – 175 gr ● 175 – 225 gr ● 225 – 250 gr ● 250 – 300 gr ● 300 – 400 gr ● 400 – 500 gr ● >500 gr
In addition, second class eggplants are classified as fine, medium and coarse.
Packing the eggplants
The eggplants we pack go to about twenty different customers. Some of the eggplants remain in the Netherlands; you can find these in some well-known supermarkets. However, much of our eggplants go abroad.
Every customer has their own requirements when it comes to numbers and weight. Because of this, we pack eggplants in different ways. For example, we use the following packaging materials, among others:
The boxes often contain 5 kg or 14 pieces of eggplants.
- Various types of crates
The crates often contain 3 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg, 10 pieces or 14 pieces of eggplants.
But it doesn’t stop there. Some customers also like to have a sticker on each eggplant or a cover sheet on the box.
When packing eggplants, we do not depend only on the customer’s wishes. We must also take into account the rules of our certifications. For example, we must be able to demonstrate that all packaging with which our eggplants have come into contact is food-safe.
There is also a bit of sustainability involved in the packaging process. In fact, the crates in which we pack the eggplants are all reused. Of course, these do get cleaned by the supplier before coming back to us.
From the warehouse to the customer
When all the eggplants are packed, they continue into the machine. The machine knows which sorting box the boxes come from and thus to which pallet they should be transported. In addition, the machine automatically puts a stamp on the boxes that contains all the data.
When the pallet is full, it automatically comes to the end of the machine. Here there will be corner slats and a strapping band on top if necessary. Then the pallet is placed in a cold storage room ready to be picked up! In the cold room, boxes and crates are sorted by customer.
The pallets are collected by customer and are then usually driven to a distribution center. This is where the process stops for us. From then on, it’s just a matter of waiting until they are in stores and then on consumers’ plates!
Wondering how our eggplants get to consumers? You’ll read about it in this article!