Over the past decade, the Topaz has become Austria’s most popular organic apple. With an excellent sweet to acid ratio and a recognizable shape, the domestically cultivated apple variety has been able to prove itself as an absolute bestseller at the POS. However, due to the high rot susceptibility of the organic apple, there were often high failures during processing and long-term storage. Thanks to the innovative water immersion system from Dutch machine supplier Burg Machinery, the apples can now be stored well into the summer, explains early adopter Andreas Kreuzwieser from Meleco Ltd.
Sturdy fruit boxes are ready for preparation and storage
The company, founded in 2008 and headquartered in Pasching, Upper Austria, successfully cooperates with several partners and supplies Austrian food retailers and natural food retailers as well as wholesalers in southern Germany. “In the fall of 2013, our cooperation partner, the Rosenbaum company in the heart of the apple-growing region of Styria, installed its first water immersion system. The aim here was to increase the quality and storability of our apples, because we noticed that the loss was relatively too high, especially during the second half of the season.”
Andreas Kreuzwieser markets fresh organic apples grown in Austria / Photo: Meleco
Modern and gentle post-harvest treatment
In contrast to other regions, Topaz apples are also highly prized by Austrian and southern German organic buyers in spring and summer, Kreuzwieser knows. “Therefore, successful long-term storage and good shelf life is extremely important. More than 90% of the total Topaz yield goes into long-term storage, and the remaining part is marketed right away in the fall. The storage apples are treated immediately post-harvest to ensure that the machine is at optimum efficiency and the produce can be stored in the best condition,” Kreuzwieser says. The plant’s cycle rate is about 15 bulk crates an hour or three trucks a day, which is about half of the daily yield during the peak season. Therefore, the new installation of a second line took place in 2018 so that the yields can now be fully treated at two different locations and within the shortest possible time.
The water immersion process from Burg / Image: Meleco/Burg.
In addition to apples, attempts have also been made to treat organic pears of the Uta variety using the water immersion system. Kreuzwieser: “However, the ripening dynamics of organic pears are not so easy to control. Unfortunately, the fruits ripen relatively quickly, which makes long-term storage quite complicated. At the moment, the marketing of pears usually runs out between February and April, and compared to apples, the volumes of pears are still rather modest.”
Front view of the innovative system / Photo: Meleco/Burg
Extending the marketing season
According to Kreuzwieser, installing the water immersion process was a forward-looking decision and has contributed significantly to his company’s competitiveness. He points to the 2019/2020 marketing season, that was marked by Corona. “Due to the increased demand and a tight supply situation, Topaz prices went through the roof. Thanks to our water immersion process, there has been smooth long-term storage of our apples and we’ve been able to sell them into July, unlike many others.”
Johann Lehner Straße 5
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Burg Machinefabriek B.V.
Franz Rosenbaum Gesellschaft m.b.H. & Co KG
8225 Pöllau bei Hartberg