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Cost benefits analysis of in-field presorting for the apple industry

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008522.(doi:10.13031/2013.29638)
Authors:   Akira Mizushima, Renfu Lu
Keywords:   In-field presorting, Grading, Apple, Economic analysis, Postharvest, Quality

In-field apple presorting is intended to separate culls that are only suitable for processing or making into juice from apples that would meet the fresh market requirements, so that growers can achieve cost savings in postharvest storage, grading, and sorting. This paper reports on the cost benefits analysis of in-field presorting for the U. S. apple industry. Packinghouse costs for culls that would be saved from in-field presorting and in-field presorting yearly costs were defined and estimated to evaluate potential cost benefits for fresh apple growers, processing apple growers and packinghouses. For fresh apple growers producing 1,400 bins (508 metric tons) or more, in-field presorting is beneficial if the machinery cost is equal to or less than $30,000 (assuming 7-year machine life, 0.3 full-time labor, and 44 bins/day sorting capacity). Smaller fresh apple growers producing 900 bins (327 metric tons) may also benefit from in-field presorting under certain situations. In-field presorting is more beneficial to processing apple growers even when the production capacity is as low as 700 bins (254 metric tons). Presorted apples are more consistent in quality, thus enabling packinghouses to better manage postharvest storage/packing operations to meet the market needs. In addition, a properly designed in-field presorting system can provide information about the origin and quality/condition of fruit in each bin, thus enhancing product traceability. The economic analysis results presented in this paper are useful in guiding the development of in-field presorting systems that will ultimately benefit the apple industry.

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