BelOrta becomes Belgian fruit leader too

BelOrta integrates BFV and opens state-of-the-art sorting centre
Wed 28/06/2023 by Pierre Escodo
Belorta's production of tomato specialties will increase this winter with the restarting of cogeneration and lightning
Pre-sorting lines at the new packing station of Belorta Borgloon

With the integration of BFV as of July 1st, the fruit offering of the leading Belgian organisation is estimated this season at around 200,000 tons of pears, 75,000 tons of apple, 13,000 tons of strawberries, 6,000 tons of cherries and 3,000 tons of other berries. Melons and prunes are also part of the diverse portfolio. “We pursue the goal of concentrating the fruit offering from Belgium to support both growers and distributors, who can enjoy a greater portfolio with larger volumes,” said Jo Lambrecht, BelOrta’s commercial director. This also applies to organic hard fruit. The merging of volumes of both cooperatives results in a very attractive offer and a wide range of apples and pears that will suit every European customer.

The integration of BFV production with the BelOrta offering is intended to provide more continuity of supply, flexibility, homogeneity and a wider assortment for the organisation’s global customer base. “It is part of our fruit project where we want to create a better structure for our local cooperative fruit growers. In addition to bundling the supply, we are also investing in improved central sorting and central storage, but also in diversification of varieties and types and in creating new market concepts and packaging that meet the new regulations as well as today’s customer and consumer expectations,” said Lambrecht.

New “a-la-carte” sorting centre

Located at BelOrta Borgloon, the new sorting centre represents an investment of more than €20 million. It includes one pre-sorting and calibration unit  for apples , two packing lines for apples and pears and one sorting line for pears. Both sorting lines are equipped with the most advanced sorting technology by Maf Roda to detect both external and internal charcteristics and eventual defects. The sorting line for pears also uses an exclusive patent which holds the fruit in various positions avoiding any friction. “Today we can provide our customers with a fully customised fruit selection in terms of size and quality criteria, while increasing our level of automation,” said Lambrecht.

BelOrta also uses the new Optiflux post-harvest technology, based on the unique DCA (Dynamic Controled Atmosphere) concept, thus replacing the ULO technology while improving the storage efficiency in a very sustainable way. Optiflux also avoids the use of other post-harvest applications to fully preserve the fruit flavours.

A look ahead to next winter’s tomato season

BelOrta’s growers produced a smaller tomato crop last winter, but next winter, BelOrta expects a return to higher volumes and a wider range. The range will include vine tomatoes (Elite and Princess), loose tomatoes (Prince), beef tomatoes (Baron), cherry vine tomatoes and cocktail vine tomatoes. Customers can also continue to count on a good supply of the renowned red plum tomato Ruby Red.

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