Storage gets smarter

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14 December 2022
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Climate change is driving demand and evolution of store systems, says expert.

MILD temperatures during harvesting are not ideal for storing potatoes and to maintain quality during storage, good storage solutions are essential. 

In France and Belgium, such systems are becoming increasingly smart, according to Dutch company Omnivent, which develops and supplies storage solutions worldwide. Company Sales Manager Cor van Maanen says there has been a noticeably increased need for intelligent, sustainable storage systems over the past few years. 

"Every year, growers must consider three factors: The harvested products' quality, weather conditions, and storage length. It can be tough to control those things. This season, for example, was dry. The quality coming off the land is good, but it's still too hot. To maintain their quality, potatoes should be kept at 7°C. If they want to keep the product sprout-free, producers have to immediately either add more sprout inhibitors or take over the climate," he said.

Cor said there is a lot of uncertainty among growers in Belgium and France, with daily queries on how to deal with high temperatures and sprouting every day. "Added to that, of course, are concerns about high electricity costs and possibly gas for heating. The initial storage phase is vital for the rest of the storage period. Prices in Belgium and France are pretty good, so producers are trying to sell as much of their produce as they can off-land," he said.

Climate change means refrigeration is becoming increasingly challenging, he added. "It's not just the temperature, but also its impact."

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Using optimal energy is becoming increasingly popular and many potato supply companies now have solar panels on their roofs or a wind turbine, he said. "No one uses cheap power at night anymore. Nowadays, it's better to cool and condense during the day to optimally absorb your own generated power," said Cor.

The energy crisis is pushing up demand for the company's EMS (Energy Management System). "Producers want even more sustainable, clever storage and cooling. Omnivent is proud that our technologies allowed for good  product storage under all conditions, but current energy prices aren't helping. Yet, Western European growers' resilience is becoming evident. Continuing to look ahead along with our customers and having a solution-orientated mindset - that's our joint strength," he said.

Sources: Omnivent and Fresh Plaza

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