Interko will celebrate its milestone 50th anniversary this year by giving a special presentation on the Fruit Logistica 2018 Tech Stage that will chart the company’s five decades of continuous growth and development. On Thursday 8 February, in Hall 8.1 at 16.00, Chris Maat, Interko's Managing Director/Partner, will present a technical exploration of the logistical role of ripening in the fresh produce supply chain during the last 50 years. Chris will take the audience on a journey from field to plate. With different fruits arriving from various sources that are destined for distinct markets, he will illustrate the challenges of perfecting the ripening process for individual applications. “From optimising airflow to accommodating various box designs and fine-tuning the subsequent logistics, I will explain how such challenges can be overcome thanks to the development of tailored and adaptable ripening rooms featuring state-of-the-art technology,” Chris explains.
Established in 1968, Interko has successfully evolved from a local Dutch cooling technology provider into the world’s leading independent designer, manufacturer and installer of revolutionary fruit ripening solutions. “Interko is the pioneer of fresh fruit ripening technology, and we have strived to remain at the forefront of this industry,” points out Chris. “During the last 50 years, we have made continuous and considerable progress; consistently rolling out revolutionary products that solve various market challenges. “In the last five years alone, we have made some major achievements in launching highly-efficient, cost-effective and, therefore, profitable ripening solutions for our customers.”
Back to the beginning
Interko’s journey as a fresh produce pioneer began back in June 1968 when 31-year-old aeronautical engineer Cornelius Bolkestein was approached by the Wageningen University and Research Centre to apply his aerodynamics expertise to the cooling challenges of Dutch horticultural producers.
Using his knowledge of cold air and heating from learning about building aeroplanes, Mr Bolkestein began designing cold-storage coolers for apples and flower bulbs which enabled Dutch growers to store their products in first-class condition for much longer periods to sell later when market prices were high.
Interko quickly drew the attention of the global banana industry and in 1975 the team designed and built the industry’s first patented banana ripening room; offering a new solution for some of the biggest brands in the fruit business, including Chiquita and US retailer Walmart. These products were used in both Europe and the USA, where Interko set up a factory in South Carolina in 1978.
“I saw the technical problem from a totally different perspective to others,” Mr Bolkestein explains. “While they were counting the kilogrammes and from that calculating how much the product needed cooling down, I calculated how much air would be needed to do the job. That meant my coolers were more efficient than most others at the time.”
With air flow crucial to the ripening process, Interko soon progressed into developing technology for other fruits, such as mangoes, papayas, avocados and even pears. Even now, Interko’s aeronautical roots still represent the core of the business.
“Interko has always been a pioneer and I still see many opportunities for the company to continue being revolutionary,” concludes Mr Bolkestein.
See Interko present on the Fruit Logistica Tech Stage
Thursday 8 February
Visit Interko at Fruit Logistica 2018
Interko is the global leader for the design, manufacture and installation of cost-effective, high quality and low-maintenance ripening rooms for fresh fruit, and cooling systems for the horticulture sector.
Founded 50 years ago, Interko develops precise, advanced and energy-efficient systems that are built to last. Since its creation Interko has installed over 6,000 ripening rooms for bananas, avocados, mangoes, papayas and tomatoes – the earliest of which are still in operation and performing well today. Every year Interko installs around 200 ripening rooms.
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