Ingredients supplier Petrow Food Group has invested £850,000 in a new fruit processing line at its Haverhill production facility in Suffolk.

The business, which supplies to markets including bakery, breakfast cereal and ready meals, described the machine as one of the most sophisticated of its kind.

Used for processing dates and other dried fruits, it incorporates an X-ray, flame unit, laser, metal detector and an automatic packing unit, and will identify and remove stones, pits, glass, metal, plastic and other foreign bodies.

“This complete processing line assures outstanding ease and reliability of operation to throw open more opportunities for customers,” said Petrow Food Group managing director Ian Tatchell. “Automation maximises production efficiency, while advanced quality control offers the safety, quality and throughput to take performance and competitiveness to the highest levels.”

The line has a maximum throughput of 1,200kg, and an automatic unblocker and vibrating belts to smooth out clumps of dates or fruit. A macerator removes pits before a flame unit rids the fruit of hairs. X-ray technology detects foreign bodies such as metal, ceramic and glass, before fruit is passed through a throat metal detector. It is then chopped and passed through a large tumbler, where it is powdered with rice flour to avoid further clumping. The fruit is then sorted to ensure it is the exact size specified by the customer, before being automatically weighed, filled and packed.