See Spanish citrus, French manufacturing firsthand
CITRUS industry representatives will embark on a fact-finding mission to southern France and Spain in November thanks to a partnership between equipment manufacturer MAF and Citrus Australia.
The 10-day study tour will retrace the route undertaken in November 2014 by 26 Australians who travelled to Europe at the invitation of MAF Oceania and its French parent company, MAF Roda.
The tour is likely to begin at Toulouse airport in France on either November 9 or 16.
In 2014 the group included a mix of citrus growers and packhouse operators from districts as diverse as Cairns and Western Australia. Of the 11 packhouses represented, some were already using MAF sorting and grading equipment while others were considering having it installed.
While MAF Oceania is a relatively small company, employing only about 14 people, the French operation has a staff of 400 and a further 300 work in Spain.
The tour will visit the head office at Montauban, which is about 60 kilometres out of Toulouse, and after that will go down to Valencia in Spain to visit MAF’s Spanish factory. In both areas we will see citrus packhouse operations.
MAF will organise technologically focused inspections while Citrus Australia schedules visits to orchards, nurseries and research facilities. The tour will also include a leisure and sightseeing weekend in Barcelona.
Citrus Australia is inviting expressions of interest from industry members wishing to take part. Participants will need to arrange their own travel to and from Europe and pay for accommodation but other on-ground costs (including daily coach transportation and meals) will be covered by the hosts.
It is expected the group would comprise up to 25-30 citrus growers and packers again this year.
MAF Oceania is based at Bacchus Marsh in Victoria and tailors equipment to fruits and vegetables ranging from mandarins and oranges to custard apples, cherries, onions and avocadoes.
Its latest release, the Globalscan 6, evaluates citrus for external defects and sorts by size and colour using cameras with five times the resolution of earlier models. MAF also provides brix monitoring equipment that samples batches for sweetness.