Case Study

Laser And Optical Sorting Maximize Quality And Throughput For A Walnut Processor

Food Sorting Solution

Linden, CA-based Morada Nut is a grower and processor of walnuts and various other agriculture items. As a third-generation family farm, one of the company’s biggest concerns was providing its customers with the highest quality products possible. This case study shows how the implementation of optical and laser sorting technology helped Morada Nut boost the quality of its product while simultaneously increasing efficiency and maximizing throughput.

Morada Nut is a third generation family farm specializing in growing and processing walnuts, cherries, onions and bell peppers, located in Linden, California.

High-quality food is a priority for the farm so ensuring that they have the very best in food sorting technology is a must to serve safe and delicious walnuts for their customers to enjoy.

Headquartered in the fertile San Joaquin County, Morada Nut is owned and operated by the Foppiano family, whose farming traditions began during the California Gold Rush in 1849. Owner Henry J. “Skip” Foppiano III looks back on a deep farming history. Skip’s dedication and respect for his family’s farming traditions grew from generations past, beginning with his great grandparents Giovanni and Caterina Foppiano that moved from Italy to California in 1849. His grandfather planted one of the first cherry orchards in the region. Growing up with a farming culture, Skip was inspired to carry on his family’s traditions, bringing the same passion to farming as his father and grandfather before him.

“Morada Nut is a real family business and Skip wants to ensure that the quality product is expressed in your box as well. That lends a lot of pride in the product we are processing,” explains Scott Brown, Production Manager at Morada Nut.

Morada Nut is located on one of the family-owned walnut orchards and it’s one of the region’s premier growers and distributors of walnuts, with a state-of-the-art walnut in-shell plant with bleaching and scrubbing capabilities.

The company handles different premium varieties such as Chandler, Howard, Tulare, and Hartley. Morada Nut has plans to increase production significantly over the coming years.

Walnut Sorting

“It’s all about the premium quality walnut product that we are able to grow in our own local region. We are very fortunate to benefit from a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers, mild winters, and delta breezes that make for an ideal walnut growing region. Providing superior customer service and the highest quality product to our top tier customer base is our mission at Morada Nut,” says Scott.

The Foppianos are still very much involved in the day-to-day management at Morada Nut. Skip’s extensive knowledge of farming and production continues to guide the design and technological improvements of the impressive facilities.

Innovation and creativity have played an important role in Morada Nut’s success. The company’s vision to integrate research and state-of-the-art technology has greatly increased customer and grower satisfaction.

“We are able to satisfy the most demanding customers, requiring strict quality specs and only the highest quality walnuts to service their consumers. This has become a trade mark for Morada Nut,” explains Scott.

Scott continues: “We know that laser sorting and optical sorting technologies are the way to increase efficiency and deliver the high quality product that our customers demand. We had to accommodate for our projected growth, expand into necessary markets and develop our customer base.” Morada Nut is a firm believer that it is only as strong as its partners.

“We turned to TOMRA because when looking at the challenges ahead, it soon became clear that TOMRA was going to meet our high requirements, and able to achieve the quality and the high throughput in a timely manner. Their years of expertise led to us developing the best sorting solution for our needs,” clarifies Scott.

“A sorter is the bottle neck of your business; it’s the most important piece of equipment. You better get it right.” - Scott Brown, Production Manager at Morada Nut

“After elaborate testing at TOMRA’s brand-new facility in West Sacramento, California, we bought 3 TOMRA Nimbus sorters of which 2 equipped with the state-of-the-art BSI technology, all 3 sorters in cascade setup, maximizing our throughput and efficiency and ensuring a final product clean of foreign material and other defects.

“TOMRA’s Sacramento office has become a central hub for the walnut industry. They did a fantastic job of hosting us on a number of different occasions, really providing us with a network of support. We could come by at any time we wanted, ask specific questions regarding the start-up, the installation and the capabilities of the systems.

“We did many demos in their beautiful facility and were convinced that the combination of the BSI and laser technology on a single machine was a revolutionary step in the walnut kernel sorting industry. Utilizing both on a single platform was going to allow us a very accurate single sort on the machine! During the trials we were also able to bring a very good group of operator level employees that were allowed time to learn the sorting machine and work hand in hand with the technicians so they can perform at an optimal level. We are really happy with the results.”

Walnut Sorting

Walnut Sorting

“We felt that the TOMRA team were experts in the walnut industry, but we also felt that they were innovative, pro-active and pushing the technology and software forward. Their sorting equipment ensures a gentle product handling as well. On top of the necessary speed, urgency and services provided, this made them the ideal partner. TOMRA’s solid commitment to being at the cutting-edge of innovation is what we were seeking and it supported our company expansion,” says Scott.

Quality control and food safety measures are of utmost importance at Morada Nut.

“Walnuts are sorted through an optical sorter, analyzing color and defect recognition. Each walnut is evaluated with customized software, and accurate quality control reports are generated and reviewed by the production and sales teams. This emphasis on customer satisfaction separates us from many competitors; we are prepared to go at any length necessary. Using TOMRA’s sorting equipment allows us to deliver a premium product which meets the need of the customer.”

“Priority is quality not quantity. We understand and constantly analyze consumer preferences and buying habits. As factors change, we respond by giving customers the best solutions to meet consumer demands.” - Scott Brown, Production Manager at Morada Nut

Morada Nut invests an abundant amount of time, energy, and resources to ensure their facilities are one of the cleanest in the industry. Remarkably high scores are consistently achieved during third party audits for food safety and quality assurance. Morada Nut is able to retain this level of sanitation and organization year-round, throughout peak production times. This is a testament to their commitment to meet stringent agriculture compliance laws.