Besseling makes inroads in North America cold storage

As a somewhat new player in terms of the North American market, not many people may have heard about Besseling Group controlled atmosphere (CA) equipment. But with over 1,000 CA installations in more than 30 different countries, the company believes that’s beginning to change.

“For over 90 years, the Besseling family has been growing, trading, exporting and storing fruit,” Migiel Besseling, president of Besseling North America, who started offering CA equipment in Canada and the United States in 2012, said in a news release.

“Our first cold storage facility was in the early ’50s, and the construction of the first CO2 adsorber was in 1965,” Besseling said. “Being directly related to the owner of the Dutch CA equipment manufacturer Besseling Group means we’re able to share global knowledge while offering local support.”

The main North American office is in Oliver, British Columbia and the company has partners in Washington, Michigan, Indiana, New York and Ontario for support and service.

Besseling said the company is a one-stop shop for CO2 adsorbers, nitrogen generators, ethylene converters, dynamic controlled atmosphere (DCA) monitors, atmosphere control stations, Salco gastight CA doors, and RibbStyle CA coatings.

“Because of our fruit growers’ background we understand the storage of produce extremely well. So all of our equipment is built with that in mind,” Besseling said. “Our CO² adsorbers are fitted with a type of butterfly valves that can practically never get stuck, something that we hear happens often.”

Besseling’s activated carbon beds can be expected to last the lifetime of the machine, the release stated.

“Our nitrogen generators are already capable of storing organic fruit under ultra low oxygen (ULO), whereas some other CA equipment isn’t,” said Besseling, who stressed these approaches help assure growers the equipment does what is expected.

One of Besseling’s most significant 2016 projects was a new 90,000-square-foot packing facility for Sandher Fruit Packers in British Columbia, according to the company release.

The Sandher family is one of western Canada’s largest apple growers, focusing on Ambrosia, Gala and Honeycrisp. Sandher also is one of Canada’s largest late cherry producers. The new building has a steel frame, walls of insulated sandwich panels, an insulated floor, and features two cold store rooms and six high efficiency CA rooms that can store an estimated 17,500 bins (375,000 bushels) of fresh fruit.

The facility uses a secondary refrigeration system installed by Versatile Refrigeration, and the packing area features of the first Unitec apple lines in North America with four lanes and a Unitec optical sorter. The Sandher family brought the first Unitec optical cherry sorting line to North America in 2009.

“Besseling was involved in every aspect of the building, and considering the fact that they broke ground in January and finished in September, it was a daredevil feat,” Migiel Besseling said. “As the forklifts were bringing in the first harvest bins, we were crossing t’s and dotting i’s. Everything came together really well, and the customer is very pleased with the result. The marketers also said recently that there is exceptional quality fruit coming out, so this turnkey project turns out to be a very rewarding investment.”

A 2015 project brought Besseling North America to Washington-based Conrad & Adams Fruit, which operates the former Snokist and Andrus & Roberts warehouses in Grandview and Sunnyside. It is a grower-packer-shipper of conventional and organic apples, conventional and organic pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines, Italian prunes and plums from the Yakima Valley.

When Conrad & Adams made the decision to replace lime with six CO2 adsorbers spread out over four buildings at two locations, it chose to go with Besseling.

“Everything is tied together and works so well, that I tend to forget about our scrubbers sometimes,” Carl Costello, Conrad & Adams plant manager, said in the news release. “They never seem to give me any concerns. I’ve recently ordered a Salco CA door from them as well.”

The latest Besseling product introduced to the North American market is the Fruit Observer – a chlorophyll fluorescence response monitor to determine the physiological condition of the fruit while in ULO storage. It was developed in cooperation with the University of Lleida, a leading Spanish institute for research and education in agronomy and food technology.

The device, which is offered at a time of rising interest in organic fruit storage, continuously measures the levels of O2, CO2, temperature and relative humidity in the CA room, while detecting whether the anaerobic respiration has been triggered due to lack of oxygen.

The resulting graphs in the accompanying software will help the operator decide when to increase oxygen to a safe level again so fruit can return to aerobic respiration. It’s a stand-alone system, which means it can be used on projects equipped with other CA equipment brands. The first Fruit Observers have been deployed in Washington and British Columbia, the news release stated.

“By recently adding two new service partners in Ontario and with plans ready to expand into other states, it shows Besseling North America is destined to stay and poised for growth,” said Will Smit, Besseling North America general manager.

– Gary Pullano, managing editor of Fruit Growers News

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