Banana Tray Packaging filling and sealing packaging line. S-30 Fresh banana Tray packaging line.
Bananas were originally marketed in bunches and the leaves were used as padding to minimize the marking and bruising in transit to markets. In the early 1900s wood cases were introduced, with all of the bananas packed as single fingers, and weighing around 90 LBS. Eventually the wooden crates were replaced by the cardboard cartons we still see used today. and lately you can find smaller packages that comes in plastic trays.
Once the trailers of newly harvested bunches reach the packing shed, either the top of the trailer, which is demount able, is slid onto a rail like system and pushed into the shed, or the trailer is reversed into the shed
Bunches are then lifted onto an overhead conveyor system using an air ram for easier lifting for the operator. Bunches generally weigh around 75-100 LBS and each day an operator may lift up to 500 bunches. The bags are removed to be recycled and used for upcoming crops.
The overhead gantry system then takes the bunches through a high pressure wash to clean the fruit.
Next the hands of bananas are removed from the bunch stem in a process called “De-handing”. A special thin, straight bladed De-handing knife is used to remove the hands, which each contain from around 25 to 30 individual bananas or finger from the bunch stalks.
Care is taken at all of the above processes to ensure any “passengers” that come into the shed, especially green tree frogs and tree snakes which like to live in the bunches are not harmed and returned to the plantation. Occasionally, some of these passengers do manage to make a long trip to markets, where they are retrieved and sent to local zoos, or returned to the farm from which they came.
After the hands have been removed, they are cut into clusters of between 3 and 9 individual bananas, to make it easier for retailers and consumers further down the supply chain. It is these clusters that you would be used to seeing at your local retailers.
Once cut from the bunch into clusters, the bananas are placed into a fresh water wash tank, or placed onto a packing wheel, for further cleaning, removing of excess sap.
After the wash, and before bananas get to the packing station they are placed onto a conveyor belt where they are graded, sized and sorted to remove any with deformities, blemishes, cuts, bruises or marks that render them unmarketable. This conveyor belt will take the clusters to the packing stations.
The rejected bananas are put on another conveyor belt and will either become stock feed or be chopped up to be reused as plantation fertilizer.
At the end of the conveyor belts are the packing stations, where packers place clusters into banana trays in preparation for journey to markets. The two most common grades or sizes of bananas are “Large “and “Extra Large”