Sakuma Brothers, Inc. knows a thing or two about blueberries. The Burlington, WA based company has been in business since 1948, but farming the Pacific Northwest since the early 20th century, cumulatively amassing over 100 years of fruit growing know-how. Their family history reads like an Oscar-winning film, and is the kind of stuff of which American dreams are made.
An immigrant family that worked leased land and sold their produce at Pike Place Market in Seattle, the Sakumas were interred during World War II. Despite sending many of their own sons to fight for their adopted country, they were continuously treated as the enemy in their own hometown. After the war, they emerged from their hardships stronger, rolled up their sleeves and got back to work, persevering and eventually becoming the industry leader we know today.
With all of this history, you’d think the company would have seen it all in regard to postharvest standards, but according to Mike Lee, Plant Manager at Sakuma’s processing facility, there’s a new addition that is making their job significantly easier.
In July, Sakuma Brothers brought in just one precooling unit from Global Postharvest, and the difference it’s making in cooling times and efficiency have opened some eyes.
“[The] cooling unit exceeded our expectations,” says Lee. “We are very pleased with the positive effect it has had on our fruit.”
The difference between Global Postharvest’s Precoolers and existing legacy systems is as follow. The Precoolers’ combination of power, portability, and ease of operation allow for previously unavailable solutions to common forced air cooling issues. Depending on the size of the load, the Precoolers can cool blueberries up to six hours faster than any previously used system, with the added bonus of consistency, allowing for tighter shipping schedules and much greater overall plant efficiency.
It appears that even after all these years, the team at Sukuma Brothers has found a new way to move forward in an increasingly competitive field.
“The unit has run flawlessly since the day [we] fired it up,” says Lee. Here’s hoping that leads to more flawless blueberries on our tables.
Publication date: 10/13/2014