Bee Sweet Citrus founder and President Jim Marderosian has donated a $600,000 gift, a state-of-the-art fresh fruit fruit packing line, to California State University, Fresno.
The generous gift to Fresno State will provide students in plant and food sciences and technology with hands-on learning on mechanical systems and industrial maintenance tied to food processing and safety.
Bee Citrus is a citrus grower, packer, and shipper based at Fowler, Calif.
“Bee Sweet Citrus is proud to invest in Fresno State and the Jordan College so their students are prepared to meet the challenges of the modern agricultural industry,” said Marderosian, a 1979 Fresno State graduate in agricultural business.
The packing line includes equipment from six specialized area equipment manufacturers including Mid Valley Packing and Supply, Decco U.S. Postharvest, Valley Automation Solutions, Intelligrated Aweta Americas, and Mid Valley Packing and Supply.
The processing line handles up to 16 oranges, peaches, mandarins, pomegranates, lemons, and grapefruit per second. Fruit for the packing line will be grown on the 1,000-acre Fresno State farm.
On the packing line, harvested fruit is first loaded on a moving metal roller bed where any debris is removed. An ultraviolet fluorescence unit (black light) then checks fruit for peel quality and potential decay.
After the fruit is cleaned, washed, and dried, conveyor rollers will transport it to a near-infrared spectroscopy scanner where cameras will analyze the fruit. The last process is grading and sorting fruit by fruit type, size, weight, and quality.
The fruit processing line is located in the campus’ Bee Sweet Citrus Laboratory in the Grosse Industrial Technology Building. The equipment will be used in the “Fundamentals of Citrus Processing Line” class taught by Fresno State’s Athanasios Alexandrou, chair of the industrial technology department.
“This equipment will be immediately utilized by a full class excited to learn about this technology,” says Alexandrou.
He added, “Being able to work with other departments on colleges on campus makes this a gift that will better prepare Fresno State students for food safety and agricultural system management careers far into the future.”