It was through this progressive thinking that Foodlink got into Freshcut processing: a school district approached them with the problem that many apples were ending up in the trash. While researching, Foodlink came across a study that showed apple consumption in schools increased significantly when apples were offered cut. As a result, Foodlink started selling sliced apples to local schools, and as demand increased, the company purchased first one and then a second KRONEN HGW grating, dividing and punching machine.
When a new 28,000-square-foot community kitchen was built in 2016, the need for a more powerful line for fresh-cut apples arose. KRONEN Corp, the U.S. subsidiary of KRONEN GmbH, helped Foodlink plan for a space-saving system that would increase production to a capacity of 1,200 apples per hour and minimize labor costs. The new system consists of the TONA S180K cutting machine, which was combined with the KDB 120 dipping bath for treating the freshly sliced apple wedges and an inspection conveyor. The apple wedges are then packed in portions by a packaging machine.
The versatility of the HGWs, previously used for apple processing, allowed Foodlink to use them for processing different products in the kitchen. The HGWs are used to cut small quantities of vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, celery, peppers and onions. In the future, other tools can be added to the HGW and TONA S180K to be used for different processing steps, such as coring and slicing, for a variety of products.
With a new state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, Foodlink has created capacity to prepare complete meals. Terra Keller, chief operations and financial officer, explains, "One of the goals of our new kitchen was to increase the amount of home-prepared meals to raise the bar for institutional food service."
As part of the kitchen inventory, the facility also invested in a GS 10-2 belt slicer. With its reliably high cut quality, the GS 10-2 is used for vegetable processing, such as slicing cucumbers or carrots, strips of peppers and strips of green and red cabbage. The machine is equipped with an extended infeed conveyor and an integrated cutting table for four. Shortly after startup, Foodlink added a dicing grid for potatoes, tomatoes, red onions, peppers and radishes to the cutting tools. To make "Pulled Meat" from cooked chicken and beef, the plucking knife on the GS 10-2 is used. Processing ingredients with the GS 10-2 provided significant savings in labor time, so a second belt slicer was added to the kitchen to cut larger quantities of cabbage.
In order to be able to offer healthy meals in the facilities and to prepare the ingredients for each meal, Foodlink has relied on KRONEN equipment since 2014 and to this day. The hygienic design and easy cleaning of the machines give the company the assurance that the ingredients are flawless. Support is provided by the local KRONEN Corp. subsidiary, which is quickly on hand with services and spare parts when needed. Terra Keller sums it up this way: "The cooperation with the Kronen team goes beyond the machines. It's a true partnership, and we're glad we've built such good relationships with the team that helps us solve problems and advises us on the industry."