Innovación, Investigación y SaludJul. 27, 2016
Canadá: Inauguran gran planta procesadora de arándanos debido a que la producción se ha triplicado en una década
Oxford Frozen Foods’ mega-processing plant in northeastern New Brunswick is the biggest of its in kind in the world, but the blueberry giant already has long-term plans to double its capacity.
The more-than-$51-million processing plant opened a full year ahead of schedule in St. Isidore, N.B. because blueberry farmers there are now producing roughly three times as many of the berries per acre as they did a decade ago.
“In the last 10 years, the production of blueberries by producers in New Brunswick has grown from about 2,000 pounds per acre to about 6,000 pounds per acre. They’ve seen a real improvement in their yields,” said Jordan Burkhardt, Oxford’s director of human resources.
But another driver of blueberry production is simply the amount of land under cultivation.
Earlier this year, the New Brunswick provincial government decided to allocate 1,600 hectares of Crown land in Gloucester and Northumberland counties for blueberry farming. That land is to be leased to 37 blueberry farmers and developed for agriculture during the next six to eight years, greatly boosting New Brunswick’s current annual production of 78 million pounds of blueberries.
Oxford has invested heavily in helping those New Brunswick blueberry farmers improve their operations, raising its stake on the Acadian Peninsula to about $70 million in the past three years. There, Oxford operates as the Acadian Wild Blueberry Company and its 175,000-square-foot plant is almost twice as big as the average Home Depot.
The Acadian Wild Blueberry plant uses the much more environmentally-friendly carbon dioxide instead of ammonia to freeze product and curb operational costs. This technology is already used elsewhere but this plant is the biggest of its kind in the world.
Although the surge in blueberry production has kept prices low in the past few years, Burkhardt is confident Oxford will be able to grow its market to sell its growing supply.
The Oxford plant in northern New Brunswick uses two freezing tunnels to process up to 1.5 million pounds of fresh blueberries daily during the harvest season and has enough cold storage to hold 45 million pounds of product. Energy-efficient, the plant also uses LED lighting and efficiency-control systems.
Financing for the new plant was in part provided by Opportunities New Brunswick which provided Acadian Wild Blueberry Company with up to $37.5 million in fully-repayable and interest-bearing loans.
The plant is expected to get into full production in early August and interviews are currently being conducted to fill the available jobs.
“We probably have about 25 employees on the site,” said Burkhardt. “In two weeks, we’ll have 100.”