Haith’s Innovation Solves The Chicory Challenge

Over the last seven decades, Haith has installed thousands of vegetable-handling machines. However, none had ever been for processing chicory root; this changed last year, and Haith has two custom-designed and manufactured lines operating in Germany.

Compared to other root vegetables, chicory is somewhat of a niche product. A woody, perennial herbaceous plant, chicory is cultivated for its salad leaves, buds and roots, which are baked, ground and used as a coffee substitute and food additive. Chicory is also grown as a forage crop for livestock, and inulin, an extra from the root, has been used as a sweetener and source of dietary fibre.

The main challenge when a processing line receives chicory is the amount of soil that is attached to the roots when harvested. As well as being claggy, the crop is often bunched together, meaning there is a high percentage of waste which needs to be separated from the chicory.

This was the challenge faced by the German company Fritz Boss in 2021. Unable to find a suitable solution, Fritz Boss contacted Haith’s Dutch agent, SWP Machinery, which in turn asked Haith if its designers could develop a solution.

Haith’s design team exceeded expectations, solving the problems of efficiently removing the clod from the chicory and effectively and accurately packing it.

“It took a bit of development, but we got there in the end,” says Rob Highfield, Sales Manager at Haith. “We developed a teaser unit which connects to our SupaFlow bunker in-feed hopper, which gently shakes the chicory, loosening the soil before passing over a series of star soil extractors.

“At the other end of the line, we placed a SupaFill box filler on a vibratory plate. Our software engineers modified the operating system so that the filling head moves left to right until the crop is detected. At this point, the filling head moves to one side, and the vibratory plate is engaged, lowering and levelling the chicory. This process is repeated until the filling head detects the chicory at the top of the box or the desired weight.”

The positive feedback SWP Machinery received from Fritz Boss was instrumental in securing an order from Woller Gemuse, another chicory packer, a year later.

“The solution that Haith developed and we sold to both companies was a lot neater and more compact than other manufacturers were recommending,” say Krijn van Groningen, sales manager at SWP Machinery. “Before the Haith machinery was installed, both companies were outsourcing the cleaning, grading and packing of their chicory. Now, thanks to Haith’s design team and their innovative thinking, both companies have lowered their operating costs, increased their efficiency, and become self-sufficient.”

If you grow and pack a niche crop or have a challenge that other manufacturers have struggled to solve, then please don’t hesitate to contact Haith by emailing sales@haith.co.uk or calling +44 (0)1302 831 911.