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Consumers are looking for more convenience as well as product freshness in their packaged fruit and vegetables.

Robert Marguccio, Heat and Control’s business manager of packaging and inspection systems, says the influx of ready-made meals served with pre-packaged salads and pre-cut fresh vegetables and fruit is the direct result of demand from busy consumers.

“The busy lifestyle of Australian consumers will see this industry continue to grow as demand for more innovative products increases," he says.

“Improvements in packaging materials and product storage could also see a greater shelf life of pre-packaged products, meaning products could be packaged in Australia and exported to overseas markets.”

At the moment, local demand is driving uptake of end-of-line automation of robotic pick-and-place systems, Marguccio says.

“This leads to auto case packing and robotic palletising of the boxes ready for warehousing, and then shipping to distribution centres.

“The speed of doing this means freshness of the product can be maintained with less time between harvesting and having the product on the shelf.”