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Nut producer improves quality with sorting technology

US walnut processor DeRuosi Nut is meeting increasing quality demands and production levels by investing in new sorting technology.

The California-based company, which is expecting to process around 25,000 tonnes of walnuts this year, selected Bühler’s Sortex BioVision technology to help resolve its processing challenges with foreign material (FM) and different coloured kernels. DeRuosi Nut processes a range of both in-shell and shelled walnuts, including varieties such as Chandler, Hartley, Vina and Howard.

Mike DeRuos explains, “Sortex BioVision technology is the perfect sorting solution for us, as it takes care of all the different challenges we have in processing walnuts, including the ability to move larger volumes in a shorter period.”

He adds that the Sortex E optical sorting platform compact, noting, “It has really upped the bar for us on food safety and the overall quality of our product.”

Walnuts, according to the California Walnut Board & Commission, are growing in popularity for their nutritional value. They mostly contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and are the only nut to contain a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. A 28g serving of walnuts provides 18g of total fat of which 13g are PUFA and 2.5g are ALA, as well as other health-promoting nutrients and bioactive components.

The increasing recognition of these health benefits is helping to drive the growth in demand, which has seen world walnut production rise from under 900,000 tonnes in 2005, to nearly 1.5 million tonnes in 2015. California walnut production has risen at a similar rate – increasing from just 350,000 tonnes in 2005 to the 600,000 tonnes it is today.

DeRuosi explains, “The walnut industry is continuing to expand. Approximately 1.3 billion pounds (600,000 tonnes) of walnuts are now grown in California and this has been increasing at about 10% a year.”

Bühler’s area sales manager Rio Rafael adds, “The Sortex BioVision technology is a combination of proprietary Bühler detection technologies – BioCam, high definition InGaAs and colour cameras. It efficiently removes colour defects, shells and FM that other industry technologies have struggled to cope with, which is why it is regarded as one of the most technologically advanced in the industry.”

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