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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

New technology used in SPC Ardmona's fresh fruit foray

SPC Ardmona has invested $10 million in a new plant which will package fresh Goulburn Valley fruit.

GEOFF ADAMS February 26, 2013 4:09am

Bindi Irwin Robert Irwin, Marnie Tricarico and Violet Lourenz at the launch of Goulburn Valley Fresh apples in Melbourne..


SPC Ardmona’s foray into fresh fruit packaging has been developed by a 14-person, $10million unit at the Mooroopna factory.

The Goulburn Valley Fresh apple slices have been in some Coles stores since Australia Day, but promotional advertising began last weekend.

A public launch was organised in Melbourne last week with Australia Zoo personalities Bindi and Robert Irwin.

SPC Ardmona managing director Vince Pinneri said the idea for a long-lasting fruit in a bag had been discussed for several years and in February 2011 the company started discussions about the patent for the technology.

The company secured the exclusive licence for Australia and New Zealand last year.

It set up a unit of 14 people from within the company and trained them in the skills required to produce the packaged apple slices in a special part of the Mooroopna factory. Installation of the equipment took about nine months, Mr Pinneri said.

Consumers have a choice between green (granny smith) or red apples (Sundowner, Gala or Pink Lady), largely sourced from the Goulburn Valley.

Mr Pinneri said the company had committed to only using Australian fruit, and seasonal conditions would dictate what region the fruit was sourced from.

He said the process had solved the age-old problem of apples browning after they were cut open, by using calcium chloride as a firming agent to ensure the apple slices stayed crunchy.

Calcium ascorbate (a natural form of Vitamin C) is used as an anti-oxidant to stop browning. Both are approved food additives.

Fruit is cut by four coring and slicing machines. Once sliced, the fruit moves to a colour sorting machine, which uses high-speed photography to detect and reject any fruit slices that may have a blemish.

From there, the sliced fruit undergoes a unique process that extends its shelf-life. The treatment, which uses no artificial preservatives or chemicals, ensures minimal losses to the aroma, juiciness, physical freshness and appearance of the fresh cut apples

The slices are then bagged in an inert atmosphere to prevent oxidation.

The temperature in the processing rooms is controlled to 4°C, which slows ripening and ensures that harmful micro-organisms don’t grow.

Mr Pinneri said the pre-packaged fruit snacks represented one of the biggest innovations for SPC Ardmona during recent years and further evolved its portfolio of fresh, healthy and convenient snacking options.

‘‘Our research tells us that there is more than 31million snacking occasions in Australia every day, ’’ he said.

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