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Idealog Podcast: Compac and the high-tech world of fruit sorting

Think fruit sorting isn't incredibly high-tech? Think again, as digital editor Ben Mack learns from an interview with Compac CEO Mike Riley.

Imagine a machine that can sort 52 million pieces of fruit per day, take 200,000 photos per second, and go through 700 million gigabytes of data per year. Now, imagine versions of those machines operating in more than 80 countries.

That's just a snapshot of what Compac is all about.

It's not a stretch to say the Auckland-based company is one of the largest companies in New Zealand that you've probably never heard of - not to mention ONE OF THE LARGEST FRUIT SORTING COMPANIES IN THE WORLD.

Purchased by Norwegian company Tomra in 2016, the company has fully embraced the use of technology. It typically hires more engineering graduates from the University of Auckland each year than any other company. Oh, and it also has developed the Spectrim, a state-of-the-art technology which sorts and grades fresh produce by analysing up to 500 images of each individual fruit. This reduces fruit contamination and ensures that the very best produce reaches consumers. Compac and Spectrim make up 90 percent of New Zealand’s fruit grading technology, over 60 percent of North America’s and it’s continuing to expand in other areas including Europe and China. 

Key takeaway: fruit sorting is incredibly high-tech - and will only get more advanced.

Check out this interview with Compac CEO Mike Riley and Idealog digital editor Ben Mack: