For Sorma Group, the 2022 edition of Fruit Logistica, the biggest show for the global fruit and vegetable business, held in Berlin from 5 to 7 April, has been a great success. The company welcomed customers, visitors and journalists to a stand rich in new developments: starting with packaging, where several new models showed an impressive attention to sustainabil- ity, especially the revolutionary Sormapaper Vertbag pack, which, together with two new sizes, ex- tends the Sormapaper plastic-free line; moving on to machinery, where the new WD4-S weighing machine has already attracted great interest from customers; and finally, with the opening of three new fully owned plants, one in the USA and the other two in Italy.
“At Sorma, we are constantly at work on the research and development of new products and new solutions to make our offer more and more complete,” explains Sorma Group Marketing Manager Mario Mercadini. “Everything we do is aimed at combining efficiency and sustainability.”
In fact the latest evolution of the ever-popular Vertbag, the high-visibility, high-breathability stand- up pack that has transformed the presentation of fruit and vegetable products, is plastic-free. The new Sormapaper Vertbag combines all the benefits of the original model – large printing surface, light weight, strength and breathability – with the use of raw materials from renewable sources and the possibility of correct disposal of the entire pack.
Made from tubular cellulose mesh and with a large, customisable paper strip, the Sormapaper Vertbag is printed without using solvents, discarded in favour of water-based thermal inks. The raw materials are certified by FSC – the sustainable forestry management quality mark. This new paper pack is compatible with the same Sorma CBR-170 packing machine which produces the standard Vertbags and is available in two slightly different versions in terms of strip width: Sorma Papervertbag, wider and able to contain up to 2 kg of product, and Sormapack, narrower, recom- mended for half a kg.
Two more new models in the Sormapaper line, the range of fruit and vegetable solutions in entirely recyclable, 100% FSC certified paper, further extend Sorma Group’s plastic-free assortment: the cellulose meshes with FSC paper label and the netted punnets, paper punnets enclosed in a cellulose mesh, also with FSC paper label. The packs in the line are all compatible with Sorma and other packaging machines.
Produced in different sizes and designed to meet packers’ varying needs, they are suitable for packaging all fruit and vegetable products: the largest model can take up to 2 kilos of produce.
“For us, the goal is not only to work on eco-friendly products, but also to offer real, practical solu- tions,” Mario Mercadini continues, “ that are easily disposed of by consumers, suitable for the var- ious types of product and compatible with the packer’s own machinery, while providing the same levels of robustness and durability in order to avoid food waste.”
The exhibition’s positive outcome was also partly thanks to the WD4-S weighing machine, pre- sented at the Berlin show after its launch at Macfrut 2021. The machine proved a great success with industry players, who have already responded to its ex- cellent performances, with 45 units already sold in the months since its market debut. Apart from being compact – it will fit into any warehouse – the WD4-S is also efficient – it can feed up to 4 packaging machines – and fitted to meet the demands of industry 4.0: its high technology level enables excellent precision in the weighing of fruit, especially citrus, kiwifruit and avocado, even when speeds increase or sizes vary. Able to weigh up to 70 packs a minute, the machine retains its high performances with large and small products (from 40 mm to 110 mm) alike, thanks to a self- adaptive size recognition system.
An additional photocell system then indicates when the fruit leaves one of the 108 individual cups, stopping the machine to avoid any damage to the trees and weighing cells, and thus increasing pro- cessing safety.
The software also features a special processing program for particularly delicate fruit, designed to handle produce with even greater care. Finally, like the most recent machines launched on the mar- ket by the Sorma Group, WD4-S features a touchscreen control panel: simple, intuitive and easy for operators to use.
“The market is adopting more and more automation, and this is due to a number of factors,” Mario Mercadini comments. “Labour costs are rising and the market is demanding higher and higher pre- cision standards. What’s more, government incentives for investing in automation are also on the increase. All this is encouraging companies to transition to industry 4.0 principles, and in Sorma we strongly believe in the importance of this shift.”
However, Sorma’s progress does not only refer to conquests in the field of innovation, but also em- braces milestones for the Group as a whole, which is continuing to grow and invest in the various areas where it is present. Sorma USA has purchased a new warehouse in California , 10,000 m2 in size, standing on a lot of 50,000 m2 and currently employing 38 full-time staff. The production siteperforms verticalized printing processes for flexible packaging, thanks to printing plate mounting stations, a KBA flexo printing press, two NordMeccanica laminators and three cutters. After-sales services are also provided by the 4 technical staff, who support customers with the aid of the large stock of spare parts and customised packaging materials. The Group has also extended its plant ownership in Italy, with the Corigliano Calabro site and the site at Scordia, in Sicily. The Calabrian location is a plant of 1,000 m2, able to store large quantities of printed strips, meshes and spare parts for machinery. The plant is run by an efficient, highly skilled team of a sales manager, a tech- nical manager and four specialist technicians. The Sicilian plant, also 100% owned by the group, stands on a lot of 14,500 m2, with buildings of 3,000 m2. It also has a large staff of 3 sales personnel, 2 warehousemen, 7 technicians and a delivery driver.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the market flow in our industry as elsewhere, placing various challenges before us,” Mario Mercadini concludes. “Our daily mission is to make sure that fruit and vegetable products reach everyone’s tables. So we’ve changed our working approach, increasing stocks and investing in the development of new technologies, new products and new locations, al- ways with a careful eye on environmental impact.”
Sorma Group was founded in 1973. It is currently the world’s only corporate group able to offer a turnkey solution comprising the entire line of machines required to automatically grade, weigh and pack fruit and vegetable products, together with supply of the technical material for creating all forms of packaging. It offers more than 160 automatic machine models, protected by 60 patents entirely developed by an in-house team of 35 engineers. More than 30 fruit and vegetable products can be graded and presented with the utmost precision and reliability to effectively respond to the increasingly demanding needs of large-scale distribution. The Group has its own operations centres in Spain, Germany, France, Turkey, the Netherlands, the USA and Brazil. Alongside these subsidiaries, there are also 40 specialist distributors operating at the global level.