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Source: Wootzano

County Durham robotic fresh produce packing machine maker Wootzano has launched in the US.

The company’s Avarai robot is able to carefully handle perishable fresh produce without causing bruising or damage thanks to an “embedded electronic skin”. The patented skin means the robot can calculate the precise force needed to delicately handle soft produce.

The first US bot will be used for packing grapes in California. Wootzano CEO and founder Atif Syed told The Grocer the company planned to “supply the entire Central Valley with Avarai”.

“Starting from Central Valley, we are aiming to expand to other states in the US. But as Central Valley is the food basket of the US, having Avarai in this unique area is very fitting,” he said.

“We have exceptional demand for Avarai in the region, and we are expecting a significant increase in sales.”

The company says on a punnet packing line its robot can reduce human labour requirements by 60%, with a 30% cost reduction per line. The onboard AI and computer vision capabilities meant the robots “learn and improve over time”.

Wootzano – which launched five years ago – said Avarai could “resolve the struggling labour force in fresh produce packing sheds, whilst simultaneously bringing more exciting employment opportunities in the technology sector”.

It is understood its robots are already in use in the UK, packing produce for supermarkets.


Source: Wootzano

Lee Ann Eager, CEO of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, which helped broker the launch with The British Consulate General in San Francisco, said the tech would transform the packing industry.

“As the top-producing agricultural county in the US, our region is a magnet for innovative commercial solutions,” she said.

“We represent 1% of US farmland yet produce a quarter of the nation’s food supply. We are constantly searching for cutting-edge technologies to meet industry demands and provide solutions to upskill labour and enhance productivity. Wootzano’s technology is a perfect fit to address our regional needs.”