Domestic farmers face greater and greater competition from global markets and are constantly looking for ways to increase their competitive edge. Throughout nearly 25 years in business, Columbia Fruit has advanced their operation and stayed ahead of the curve by applying innovation and technology to deliver better products to the marketplace.
The latest addition to Columbia Fruit’s business operations is a new cold storage facility built by Fisher & Sons Design/Build Contractors.
Situated on the rich farmland fed by the Columbia River in Southwest Washington, Columbia Fruit processes seven types of berries, as well as cherries and rhubarb. They chose to work with Fisher’s experienced design/build team to plan and build the facility which will quadruple their cold storage capabilities.
The new facility will include 40,000 sf of cold storage, a blast chill room and an 11,000 sf ambient temperature loading dock. Built of structural steel, the facility has insulated metal panel walls (IMPs) and a membrane roof.
The cold storage is designed with features to enhance the quality of Columbia Fruit’s products. Because every hour of delay in cooling can deplete freshness, the facility’s blast chill room is designed to cool the day’s harvest upon arrival from the field. Two large evaporators in the chill room lower the field temperature of the product to 35° degrees quickly, improving the berries processability.
Incorporating a chill room into the processing chain saves energy, and therefore dollars, by keeping the -5° freezer at optimum temperature, and reducing fluctuation in temperature as new product is stored.
The cold storage will include a Quell Fire System, designed specifically for low temperature facilities. The fire protection system allows for a higher roof height and flexibility for stacking products.
Fisher & Sons, along with Permacold Engineering, is working with Columbia Fruit to build a facility that will enhance quality and increase their market advantage through innovation. Designed for future expansion, the 60,000 sf facility is on target for receiving product July 1.