Once we’ve sourced the best possible fruit and ingredients for our products, all the action takes place in our factory in specific departments. Here is an idea of the various stages our dried fruit goes through before hitting the shelves.

Receiving

We receive most of our fruit in big wooden bins. Each bin weighs between 400 and 500 kg when full and is carefully marked to ensure we know exactly which orchard the fruit comes from.

Storing

The wooden bins are stored at a controlled temperature and relative humidity, which preserves the dried fruit until we need it.

Sorting

Our dried fruit is eventually graded into different sizes (small, medium, large and extra large) and different quality grades (choice, standard and industrial). The equipment we use to sort our fruit is essentially a large shaker that shakes the dried fruit over a series of plates each with different size holes. The fruit falls through a matching hole into a respective bin.

The quality grading is done by hand. The dried fruit travels very slowly on a conveyor belt past eight pairs of eyes, which scrutinise each fruit-piece for any blemishes. Fruit that does not qualify for our products is removed from the batch. The different size and grade combinations are designated for appropriate product lines.

Washing

Most of our fruit is sun-dried. Although our dried fruit is delivered in a perfectly good and edible state, we wash it to render an even cleaner and safer dried fruit product. Our fruit is washed when we know exactly what product line it is destined for. The washing stage is a series of water jets that spray the fruit from opposite sides. The washed fruit then passes under high-velocity cold-air dryers to remove excess moisture from the fruit. After being washed and air dried, the fruit is left to rest in plastic containers for a while before it’s packed.

Traditional-style dried fruit

The majority of our fruit is then packed as is – nothing is added or taken away. Only choice grade quality dried fruit is earmarked for our unprocessed dried fruit product lines.

Soft-eating dried fruit

The best of the best fruit is reserved for our special rehydration process. We increase the moisture content of this dried fruit to render a very soft-eating dried fruit product. This product receives extra-special attention from sorting to packing. The increased moisture content does reduce the shelf-life of the product and makes it very delicate to handle and distribute, but we believe the eating experience makes all the effort worthwhile.

Processed dried fruit

Dried fruit rolls, fruit bars and sugared fruit “dainties” have always been very popular in South Africa. We produce all of these traditional processed dried fruit products on site using various processes we have developed over the years in order to add value to dried fruit with blemishes and visual deficiencies (such as odd shapes or sizes), but that are otherwise perfectly normal. We believe our formulations are the best in the world, but this hasn’t stopped us striving for continuous improvement.

Packing

Once our dried fruit and processed dried fruit products are ready for packing, they are taken to our packing department. This is where the final quality control takes place. All our fruit is checked one last time at this stage before it is packed and distributed.

Laboratory

Our laboratory plays a central role in our quality assurance. We test the moisture levels and preservative content of every batch at various stages in the process. The At Source laboratory is also responsible for overall quality control and new product development.