As a knock-on effect of the worldwide Covid-19 lockdown, consumer demand for shelf-stable foods including frozen fruit and vegetables has soared. One company that has managed to successfully ride the wave of increased product demand is leading European frozen food producer, Fine Food. The family-owned company based in Turkey has not ceased production or indeed any of its global export operations for a single day so far. The company attributes this resilience to the technological edge that it retains over its competitors, “We are the only business with Bühler’s Sortex FA series machines in Turkey and we believe that puts us in a very strong position in the market,” said Mehmet Berk Goztepe, export sales representative, Fine Food. Established in 1994, the company has over 200 employees working across three factories in the Marmara region of Turkey; a new facility dedicated exclusively to the production of frozen French fries is currently under construction in the Emirdag district. The company has a portfolio of approximately 20 individually quick frozen (IQF) fruit and vegetable products, 12 of which are vegetables that are either grown and harvested on the company’s own land or by contract farmers around the Yenisehir and Bursa provinces. A total of 70-80 million kilogram of sweetcorn, green beans, peas, spinach, strawberries and cherries are processed by the company every year. Traditional yet innovative The company upholds a strong family-focussed ethos with members of the Goztepe family educated and exposed to all aspects of the business from a young age. Yet while the company may be traditional in its values, it is ahead of the curve when it comes to flexibility with urgent orders able to be processed in just one day. Such flexibility is made possible by the company’s use of latest technologies. Goztepe states, “With 11 sorters in total, our sorter infrastructure is far more advanced than others, something that not many Turkish processors can say.” One of the major contributors to the company’s advanced sorting infrastructure is its trusted manufacturing partner Bühler who supplies the majority of the sorters for its IQF products. A mutual alliance The company began its relationship with the brand by adding Sortex E1D optical sorting machines to its portfolio. With the machines, the company is able to take advantage of high-resolution cameras and proprietary detection technologies to ensure maximum food safety. The machine’s double-sided detection of colour, shape and size, enables quick and easy removal of subtle to gross colour defects, insect damage, blemishes and foreign materials (FM) such as glass, plastic and stones that the company was previously struggling to consistently remove. Strengthening the relationship Following the exceptional performance and stability of the machines, the company decided to invest in the brand’s latest technology to meet its growing IQF product capacity needs. With the Sortex FA2 machine’s FDA approved adjustable 1200-mm chute, the company is now able to process double the amount of product than before: 14 tonnes per hour. Goztepe notes, “In addition to the higher capacity with the FA2, I also like the improvement of the LED lighting functionality. The lights stay bright throughout their entire lifecycle meaning there is no worry about having to frequently replace them.” Furthermore, the easy adaptability of the machines to suit the company’s various IQF commodities allows for greater flexibility and control in day-to-day processing.