Grant funding facilitates Pack House Modernisation Project


High tech optical sorting equipment will enhance crop grading at the South West site

With the help of grant funding from the European Union and Invest South West and part-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Branston has invested in state of the art optical grading equipment which has been retro-fitted onto one of their existing factory lines.

The Tomra equipment uses infra-red optical sensors to grade Salad potatoes before they are washed, assessing each one for skin colour, size and condition before allocating them via automated fingers onto different conveyors and then to different containers for the next stage of packing. It is also programmed to recognise and remove stones, soil clods and other non-potato debris at an early stage in the process.

Branston’s packing site near Ilminster specialises in Salad and New potatoes and is particularly busy throughout the summer months as these crops come in freshly harvested from growers all across the southwest of the UK.

Jonathan Taylor, General Manager at the South West site said: “We are endeavouring to invest in best in class facilities at our sites to improve efficiency and long-term sustainability for us and our growers. We are extremely grateful for this grant funding. It has enabled us to make a substantial upgrade to the sorting process for the thousands of tonnes of New Potatoes we handle every year, which will help to improve the resilience of the fresh potato sector for the future.”