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La Dona Fruit opens pioneering packhouse

La Dona Fruit opens pioneering packhouse, Valle Verde Packhouse Exterior © La Dona Fruit
© La Dona Fruit


The state-of-the-art facility will revolutionise the packing of Tahiti limes in Colombia, and launch La Dona’s exports to the USA and the Caribbean.

MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA, 13 OCTOBER 2020 – La Dona Fruit, a leading producer and exporter of fresh golden pineapples and tropical fruits in Latin America, is ecstatic to announce the official opening of its groundbreaking Valle Verde packhouse and coldstore for Tahiti limes in Apartadó, Antioquia, in the north of Colombia.

The inauguration took place on Thursday 15 October 2020 and could be viewed live via Zoom. The public and private sectors of Colombia attended, including Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism; Colombia’s Vice-Minister of Agricultural Affairs; the US Ambassador; and ProColombia’s Vice-Presidents of US Foreign Investment and Agro-Exports.

Equipped with the most advanced packing technology in Colombia, the 1,542m2 facility is one of the most innovative in Latin America. The state-of-the-art packhouse will cement La Donas objective of becoming the largest lime exporter in Colombia, and serves as the launchpad for exports to expand to the USA and the Caribbean, to complement existing business in Europe.


The pioneering packhouse is managed by agricultural investment management company Farmfolio, and has been built to bespoke specifications. The machinery features infra-red sorting, sanitising, drying, waxing, and classifying modules. This will enable La Dona to implement a highly automated and fast packing process, as well as homogeneous quality and sizes. By December, the facility will be certified by GLOBALG.A.P. and SMETA.

Dax Cooke, Farmfolios Founder and La Donas Head of Global Marketing & Sales, comments: I truly believe that Valle Verde will change the landscape for limes in Colombia for years to come! This packhouse is dedicated to limes first and foremost, and that is our biggest point of difference. Every other facility packing limes in Colombia is focused on avocados first. They are not able to screen limes accurately, they lack the logistical channels to distribute limes effectively, and they dont have agronomy programmes in place with the growers to guarantee consistently top quality limes. This is what separates La Dona Fruit from the rest.” 

Already, Valle Verde is gaining attention on the market. In the run-up to the grand opening, the team has received calls each week from importers eager to reap the benefits of a coordinated supply of high quality limes from Colombia.

Oscar Baracaldo, La Donas Head of Customer Experience, adds: Although Colombia has been exporting limes for nearly a decade, the sector presents high opportunity for disruption. After packing in third party facilities during the last year, we can now confidently say that we operate the best lime packing technology in Colombia. Furthermore, our Valle Verde packhouse is located strategically within Colombias Free Trade Zone in Urabá, which is close to two Atlantic ports. This awards us major advantages over our direct competitors in Colombia in terms of maximum product freshness, as well as tax-free machinery and electronic equipment.”

© La Dona Fruit

Launching Exports

The Valle Verde packhouse has the capacity to pack 1,000 tonnes of premium, richly-coloured, and extra juicy Tahiti limes each month for export to Europe, the USA and the Caribbean. 

Baracaldo reveals: Colombia can supply limes for 52 weeks of the year, and we will be focusing on specific windows to plug the gaps in global production from September to November, and from January to March.” 

La Dona has been eager to launch exports of Tahiti limes to the USA and the Caribbean, and the opening of the Valle Verde packhouse makes this possible. This summer alone, exports to Europe doubled in volume. Next, the group is looking to welcome more growers into the fold to help maximise capacity at the new packhouse as La Dona broadens its markets. From 2021, monthly exports will triple in volume to Europe, the USA and the Caribbean.

© La Dona Fruit

Cooke explains: Recently, we firmed up agreements for exports to begin to the USA in October. At the same time, were distributing to wholesale markets throughout Europe via our own La Dona channel. Overall, we are shipping 4-6 containers per week to the USA and Europe. Were also speaking with French, Spanish and Italian importers about establishing direct, fixed programmes year-round. We want to create stability on the lime market through fixed programmes with fixed prices to develop a sustainable business for the growers and our investors.”

The La Dona model is based upon establishing direct grower relationships, and its Tahiti lime venture Valle Verde is no different. 

Baracaldo comments: By having our own packhouse we remove the need for third party players. We buy the limes directly from the growers in order to pack and ship directly from our facility. As we expand the business for our investors, we will be supporting our lime growers to produce a superior product, and to enjoy a better quality life.” 

Currently, there are 450 hectares (ha) of limes under production within La Donas grower network, which will grow to 1,200ha next year as more farms come online. 

Baracaldo concludes: Our intention is to produce the highest quality limes in Colombia, with the most juicy fruit and delicious flavour, all year round. That way, we can achieve a better price for our growers, and a better offer for our customers. Colombia is a very young lime producer with the potential to become a considerable supplier. We look forward to solving more challenges along this journey.”

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Marco and Moyca announce further expansion

Packhouse productivity expert Marco has won a contract to supply its equipment to a brand new facility at Moyca’s headquarters in Totana, Spain.

Packhouse productivity expert Marco has won a contract to supply its equipment to a brand new facility at Moyca’s headquarters in Totana, Spain.

Moyca, Spain’s leading supplier of table grapes, is building a new state-of-the-art packing house to serve its growing customer base. The new Marco Yield Control System will enable Moyca to efficiently produce consistently packed punnets and boxes of table grapes.

This solution will also see the implementation of 19 high definition LED 65” efficiency screens around the packhouse, displaying live production data as well as technical and quality control videos.

Marco director Murray Hilborne said Marco is excited to be “strengthening its working relationship with such an innovative and cutting-edge company. The new packhouse is a testament to both Marco and Moyca’s hard work and we cannot wait to see the finished product,” he said.

Moyca CEO Enrique Moya Salas is equally pleased with the new contract. “Our previous Marco packhouse installation was a huge success, massively increasing our productivity whilst giving us control over the packing process. Signing with Marco for our new facility was an easy choice to make,” he said.

Marco provides innovative productivity systems designed for the fresh produce and food manufacturing sectors. Marco designs, manufactures and installs low risk, rapid ROI modular control solutions that improve packhouse productivity by 30%.