The move made it the largest bagged salad factory in Europe, claimed Natures Way, whose customers include Tesco, Sainsbury's Morrisons, Aldi, Greencore and foodservice businesses. It follows the installation of 16 salad specification machines supplied by GIC in January, which GIC described as its largest ever single order.
Included in the expanded plant were bespoke multihead weighers and checkweigher/metal detector combi machines supplied by Yamato Scale, which specialises in providing technologically advanced weighing and checking equipment for food processors.
The latest lines add to nine lines installed in 2018.
A total of 23 of the lines use Yamato multihead weighers (8 Sigma and 15 Omega series) and all 25 use Yamato checkweigher/metal detection combi systems.
Bagged salads, leafy salad bowls and food-to-go
The equipment, which was commissioned in January 2021, would help Natures Way grow its capacity to produce bagged salads, leafy salad bowls, and food-to-go, it said.
Peter Jones, site facilities manager for Natures Way Foods, said he was impressed by Yamato’s ability to offer a bespoke package for the business, including multihead weighers, checkweigher/metal detector combis, camera monitoring systems, commissioning, spares and service equipment. “The equipment is accurate and easy to use – and fits with our operating criteria," he added.
Nick McLaren, Yamato’s product manager for inspection equipment and regional sales in the South of England, said: “Our I-Series checkweigher combis are highly sensitive making them ideal for the efficient and safe production of salad and fresh foods, by preventing product damage and minimising waste.
“We’ve worked with Natures Way before, and we know them well, so we were able to understand the intricacies of what they need. We utilised spinning top cones on the multiheads so they could handle watercress and rocket, which are notoriously difficult and like to bind together. Better control of the product reduces wastage and ensures the accurate weighing of smaller proportions.
'Exceeded codes of practice'
“At the same time, we ensured that the equipment exceeded supermarket and regulatory codes of practice. This included additions such as RFID [radio frequency identification] login on the checkweighers."
Yamato ensured the new machinery was fully compatible with Nature’s Way Foods’ existing equipment and worked alongside other key providers to enable the smooth installation and commissioning of the new production lines.