Florida produce company uses Precoolers to beat the heat
Florida is known as “The Sunshine State,” because of its abundant sunshine and steamy weather. The sun can also make it tough on produce growers and sales companies. “You’ve got to precool the product if you want to give it some shelf life,” said Cameron White, of Fresh Start Produce Sales Company, headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida. The company specializes in bell peppers, green beans, cucumbers and super sweet corn.
Given the challenges of its climate – where mid-day harvest temperatures often reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit – Fresh Start last season decided to add precoolers to its packhouse in Lantana, Florida. After an exhaustive search, Fresh Start ordered two JetReady Precoolers from Global Cooling Inc. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
White said some of the farms Fresh Start partners with have their own built-in forced air coolers. “But as we continue to build sales and bring in more product, that puts pressure on the existing equipment to keep pace,” said White. “A lot of guys who don’t precool, especially in extreme heat, their stuff just starts to fall apart.”
Fresh Start cools bell peppers and cukes for Bedner Growers, also located in Delray Beach, as part of its sales package. White said up to 12,000 cases of peppers and 4,000 cases of cucumbers need to be cooled and moved on location daily.
“I can’t say enough about our Jet Precoolers,” White said. “When they were delivered, we uncrated them, moved them into our strongest cooler, and literally less than 30 minutes later we were cooling 10 pallets of bells. That’s almost unbelievable. You literally just plug it in and you’re good to go.”
According to Jim Still, Global Cooling’s founder and president, the Jet Precooler delivers two to three times the airflow as a typical farm-built unit. The portable forced-air cooling tunnel is placed in an existing cooler, increasing the rate and amount of product that can be cooled or recooled.
“Precooling is the most important step in the postharvest process,” Still said. “The quicker you can precool a product, the better the shelf life and the greater the weight. The Jet Precooler provides just that.” The machines do not require any construction, extra laborers or permits, and arrived preassembled at Fresh Start’s packing shed, located at Mecca Farms in Lantana.
White said the company may experiment with using the Jets in another location, or moving them to a new cooler that is currently in the works at Bedner. The Jets’ portability allows users to be flexible. Fresh Start’s two Jets are specially equipped to run on either 460 or 230 volts, for extra portability.
White added that Fresh Start has ordered a third Jet for this upcoming season, to keep pace with its increasing sales. “Quality sells,” said White. “And the Jet Precoolers have helped us grow the business, so now we have to keep up with the growth. It’s the old cart and horse, but in a very good way.” “Our Jet Precoolers are made in America,” explained Global’s Vice President Jim J. Still, “right here in Philadelphia at the Philly Navy Yard business park. All of our components are the best that money can buy, and our portables are amazingly powerful, we consistently outperform bunker wall systems and farm-built box fans time after time.