Air Conditioning & Chilling

Fruit and vegetables are often underway for days before they reach shopping bags. During transport and intermediate storage, there are immense cooling requirements – since vitamins begin to diminish directly after harvest. Proper cooling slows this impairment of vitamin value.

We are at your side: from harvest to fresh-foods counter

Apples are healthy, low in calories, and inexpensive throughout the year. We let these vitamin-rich snacks roll around in school rucksacks and office bags without much thought – after all, they look quite stable and robust. But appearances are deceiving: apples are truly demanding when it comes to their storage.

The company Betko Fresh Produce of South Africa has good experience with the apple varieties Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith. Betko cleans and sorts freshly harvested apples and stores them in special warehouses equipped with cooling systems from GEA. Betko stores them in crates in controlled atmospheres, in order to retard their ripening and aging processes. In these controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage facilities, measurement and control systems ensure a temperature range of - 0.5 to - 1 °C / 31.1 to 30.2 °F, with reduction of oxygen content of the air to a maximum of 2 %. Until now, Betko has installed 72 cold-storage rooms with capacity of 98,000 boxes of apples (each box has 500 kg). The refrigeration system features cooling duty of 2.8 MW.

In February, when apple warehouses in western Europe gradually begin to empty, South African apples begin their travels to the northern hemisphere. There they are sold on farmers’ markets or at the fresh-food counters of supermarkets: for example, in Sainsbury’s, Britain’s popular supermarket chain. Sainsbury’s operates a new distribution center in Pineham, England. This warehouse complex accommodates fresh fruit and vegetables on floor space of 49,238 m2, with a value of around 50 million euros. This of course also includes apples. Starting from this advanced logistics center, Sainsbury’s delivers to 100 supermarkets in the region. The company has come up with a few ideas to improve its CO2 balance. For example, Sainsbury’s has installed a weighing system in the access road to the distribution center. When a vehicle slowly passes over this system, this produces movement in the weighing system that in turn generates power for the warehouse complex. GEA developed the entire refrigeration systems for this complex. They ensure temperatures at 1.5 °C / 34.7 °F for fast-cooling storage and 8 °C / 46.4 °F for the product warehouse. In order to observe the strict ecological requirements for this supermarket chain, the refrigeration systems employ the natural and efficient refrigerant ammonia. Waste heat from a cogeneration power plant drives the absorption refrigeration plant at the complex.