Breakthrough set to change way exotic fruit is sold in fundamental way' New technology pushes ripe and ready forward Development of ripe and ready fruit has taken a step forward with the installation of the first S5 non-destructive maturity testing machine by London-based tropical fruit and veg importer Wealmoor. A combination of Japanese technology and the expertise of Italian industrial group SACMI, the system is being heralded a success on the Continent where over 400 units are already being used by stone fruit, melon, and tomato growers. Wealmoor is the UK's largest mango importer and this year will handle over 7,500t, 40% of imports. It believes the system has great potential for tropical produce. Tests have begun on applying the concept to papaya and pineapples. The S5 transmits light through each fruit and measures key internal parameters simultaneously ­ Brix, acidity, and internal condition such as brown rot and water core. A single grading line can handle products like peaches, apples and mangoes at five fruit a second, and melons and watermelons at three. Commercial manager Avnish Malde said: "The breakthrough by the S5 is set to change the way exotic fruit is sold and managed in a very fundamental way." Supermarket customers, which include Waitrose and Sainsbury, have welcomed the development and are already carrying out retail tests, although the specific fruit has not been identified. Research by Wealmoor indicates that 53% of consumers prefer ready to eat fruit. Malde said closer maturity parameters would drive the market forward by giving greater satisfaction, adding value and enabling provision of extra product information. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}