InspiraFarms cooling keeps expanding in the African avocado market.
Beyond the farm, producing consistently high-quality produce does not guarantee success in a highly competitive export market for avocados. Due to the industry’s required high standards of fruit quality, avocado producers and exporters need to predict and control the cooling and ripening process down to the exact day, a goal that can be achieved through a reliable and precisely controlled cold chain. Cooling is probably the most crucial operation within the post-harvest chain, as this sets the parameters for fruit quality since it is the core controller of fruit physiological changes from harvest to sale.
At InspiraFarms Cooling, we are proud to continue to work with a range of exceptional avocado exporters from across Africa. Further, into the year, we will continue to deploy solutions to agribusinesses across the continent, who understand the importance of investing in a high-quality and consistent cold chain represents an important ROI for their business, economic growth community and environment.
In the past 12 months, we have installed over 5 avocado post-harvest cooling facilities across three countries, including Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Here a snapshot
In 2019, InspiraFarms Cooling deployed a cooling solution to one of Kenya’s largest producers of avocados in East Africa. The client has a mixed agricultural portfolio that includes macadamia, blueberry and avocados, among other enterprises. The enterprise also sources produce from a network of thousands of smallholder farmers as out-grower suppliers, as well as growing their produce on their farms. In 2019 they invested in two InspiraFarms Cooling cold rooms, each of 100sqm, with a capacity for 40 pallets—288 trays with 4 kg each. The facility is made up of a single chiller-based cooling system capable of feeding both cold rooms, and a cooling system that included one thermal storage tank with phase change material (ice) that pulls cold water to both cold rooms through two compressors and two reductant pumps. This way, in case of a grid loss, the client has a few hours of cooling power remaining. The advantages of the InspiraFarms energy-storage system provided to this avocado producer and exporter allow the client to have a reduced need for the usage of diesel generators. Additionally, it provides a reliable system of cooling, with sufficient energy back-up for non-stop operations, hence better produce quality and consistent cooling.
This client has reported a cut in their energy consumption and pointed out that they noticed power efficiency higher than other cold rooms they had been using before. Thanks to their increased cooling capacity, they were able to increase their buying capacity, from more smallholder farmers and out-growers. , and to maintain sustainable and consistent produce temperatures from storage to the time that their avocados are being transported to the market.
InspiraFarms Cooling has continued to support its growth developments and has since sold a new unit, to be installed in 2023.
2. Zimbabwe – Project 1
Beyond the farm, producing consistently high-quality produce does not guarantee success in a highly competitive export market for avocados. Due to the industry’s required high standards of fruit quality, avocado producers and exporters need to predict and control the cooling and ripening process to the exact day, a goal that is achievable through a reliable and precisely controlled cold chain. This is the case for one of InspiraFarms Cooling’s clients, a commercial farm situated in Northern Zimbabwe, on over 500 ha. Their portfolio currently has two main fresh produce plantation crops – avocados (205 ha) and a clementine type of mandarin, both requiring consistent precooling and cooling.
The client’s produce will be exported to premium markets in the EU, UK, Middle East and Asia, all markets that require leading cold chain technology to ensure quality is retained, as well as the optimal shelf life for premium prices.
In 2022, InspiraFarms Cooling designed a cold storage solution that includes a packing shed to house the optical sorting grading line, forced-air pre-cooler and cold storage rooms. The solution includes three pre-coolers equipped with forced air-pre-cooling technology and cooling units designed to drop 20 pallets of 1,050kg each, per room. This would drop the temperature of the avocados from +28° to +6°C in 18hrs. Finally, the customer will have access to InspiraConnect, the IoT solution that supports you and your operation, alongside advanced sensors and data services to optimise cooling with continuous tracking of quality indicators such as temperature, relative humidity, door openings and energy analysers.
3. Zimbabwe – Project 2
In 2022, InspiraFarms Cooling sold a cooling solution to a Zimbabwean producer and exporter of high-quality fresh avocados for the European, Middle Eastern and Asian markets. To cope with increasing production volumes from their orchards, the company was looking to develop their cold storage facilities to include pre-coolers and holding cold rooms, pictured below.
InspiraFarms Cooling designed the facility to include 2 pre-cooling rooms, 5 holding cold rooms, a cooled palletising room and 1 passage corridor. The two precoolers are each capable of cooling down 10 tons of produce from +25°C to +5°C in 6 hours. This feature is particularly important for the client, who specialises in the delicate variety – of Maluma avocados. This variety has a higher respiration rate, and the fruits need to be cooled down as soon as possible after harvest. Given, it is recommended that they are cooled in under 6 hours, or even 4 hours for fruits from younger trees since they have a high nitrogen status. Further, the rate at which Maluma loses firmness during storage is lower than that of Hass, especially at lower temperature settings, so experts recommend that the variety is stored at lower temperatures than Hass during export. These Maluma-specific cooling requirements were a core factor in designing a solution for the Zimbabwean exporter.
Additionally, the client’s facility also includes 5 cold storage holding rooms to hold 20 pallets of already refrigerated palletized produce. Each room will be provided with a set of sensors, for room temperature, evaporator temperature, door openings, and energy reading on consumption.
To generate further key data required to optimise their cooling performance and energy consumption, the exporter also adopted InspiraConnect, a set of hardware consisting of IoT-enabled sensors. This way, the set of intelligent sensors, loggers, and electronics allow their operating system, InspiraOS, provides them with transparency and access through real-time data monitoring, diagnostics services and alerts on over- and under-voltage to protect their cooling machine.
In 2022, InspiraFarms Cooling sold a cooling solution to a Zambian producer, marketer and exporter of high-quality fresh avocados and avocado oil from Kabwe in Zambia. The farm currently has 78 Ha planted and will be expanding to 150 ha in the next 5 years. With this planned expansion, their tonnage and cooling needs will increase as more trees are planted and mature, and it is expected that the facility will handle a total of 1500mt avocados. With an expected average daily tonnage of avocados being around 20 mt per day and reaching 42 mt at the peak of the harvest, the enterprise was looking for a cooling solution that would include a packhouse and oil press area, cooling solutions and grading/packing line, offices and hygiene areas. Additionally, the enterprise had plans to set up a ‘toll pack’ for other producers, or a unit that would provide the capacity to buy in fruit and pack it on the facility, therefore, it had to be able to accommodate these peak tonnage and cooling requirements.
Further, the client needed a cooling solution for his fresh avocados, to drop the temperature of up to 10 MT per cycle of avocados every 12 hours from +27°C to +6°C. Additionally, they needed an oil extraction area and a section for quality assurance.
InspiraFarms Cooling delivered, 32 m² or 10 pallet pre-coolers in 2021/2022, alongside one additional forced air-pre-cooling room; 64m² to cool down twice as many pallets at a time and four cold storage rooms sized at 47m² each.
The way forward
Throughout the year, we will continue to deploy more avocado solutions that will enable them to experience lower rejections, energy efficiency, extended shelf life, and efficient cooling. From 31st May – 2nd June 2023, InspiraFarms Cooling will join other exhibitors from across the world for the International Avocado Congress (Avocado Africa 2023) at the Sarit Expo Centre, Nairobi. To bring our cold chain solutions further within the booming avocado sector, we will be exhibiting and speaking at the event! We welcome any participants to visit our stand 84 at any time to meet our team of cold chain experts or book a meeting here.