Ont. cherry processor funded for colour sorters

A Niagara-region cherry processing firm will get a federal loan to set up colour-detecting sorters with which it expects to boost its production capacity.

Cherry Lane, based at Vineland Station, about 30 km west of Niagara Falls, has picked up a repayable contribution worth over $163,000 from the federal AgriProcessing initiative.

The company makes and markets tart cherry juice concentrate and dried tart cherries through Ontario retailers and also processes and freezes various types of berries and other fruits.

For its cherry processing lines, the company plans to buy and install twin Colour Detector sorting machines, “automating a function previously done manually,” the government said in a release Monday.

The equipment, which sorts cherries according to “desired quality characteristics,” is expected to boost efficiencies and improve consistency in the sorting function, thus allowing Cherry Lane to further secure a customer base.

The project “also allows the firm to continue its supply-chain relationship with 22 cherry growers” in the province, the government added.

“We operate in a global market and have been challenged to stay competitive while keeping our commitment to purchase as much Ontario fruit as possible,” company spokesperson Jenifer Smith said in the government’s release.

“The new colour sorter will create efficiencies that allow us to process more locally grown cherries from our grower community.”

The AgriProcessing initiative has budgeted up to $50 million over five years in repayable contributions for agrifood processing companies adopting new and “new-to-company” technologies.

Projects funded under the initiative have to be completed by the end of March 2014.

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