A.I.D. S.p.A. – Dr. Salvatore Torrisi, after several years of agronomic profession, in Italy and abroad, founded in 1969 A.I.D. (Agriculture Industrial Development) S.p.A., introducing new agricultural production techniques – acquired during the two years of activity and post-doctorate at the Citrus Research Center in Riverside, University of California – to give an innovative twist to Italian agriculture.
From the innovative irrigation system to the fruit and vegetables packing houses
Innovative irrigation system – In the early seventies, innovative undertree sprinkler irrigation systems were introduced in the citrus groves, as well as over canopy systems, big pivot, and lateral move, used in over 15.000 hectares of large field crops in Italy and abroad.
Anti-frost wind machines – In the same years, along with the installation of sprinkler systems, the manufacturing and installation in citrus groves of anti-frost wind machines, with full automation in relation to the temperature, also began. During the 70s more than 7000 anti-frost wind machines were manufactured and sold, of which 30% were exported abroad, and A.I.D. became in the ‘80s the worldwide leader in this field.
Self-cleaning drips – In the middle of the ‘70s, in our plant in Catania, new self-cleaning drips, exploiting new original technologies, were patented and manufactured. These drips were used in big irrigation and reclamation projects, in Italy and abroad, in particular in Libya, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, etc.
Fruit and vegetables packing houses – Between 1975 and 1981, 10 large fruit and vegetables packing houses were built for packing citrus fruits, vegetables, pistachio, grapes and cereals silos.
Research, robotics, biotechnology and the anti-frost wind machines Polyguard
Research and robotics – From the very beginning of the ‘80s the research activities were increased by developing a research center for the introduction in Italy of biotechnology and robotics, applied to the agricultural field, integrated with vision technology able to grade the oranges. Between 1986 and 1988 A.I.D. designed and manufactured the first few orange grading machines for selecting the first grade oranges, the second grade oranges and the culls for the processing industry.
Biotechnology – Between 1983 and 1987, using the in vitro micro-propagation technique, 700 clones of different orange cultivars, virus free, were produced together with mother plants for the diffusion of the breeding material to the Sicilian citrus nurseries. During the same years the research on cryogenic bacteria was carried out in cooperation with the University of California at Berkeley. The vegetable and fruit crops were sprayed with these engineered bacteria to improve the crop protection from cold and freezing nights.
The Polyguard – In the middle of the 80s, the Polyguard, a multi-purpose version of the anti-frost wind machines, was developed. The Polyguard was very effective in automatically spraying over 3 hectares with fungicides and different pesticides, during the night and in the absence of wind, in order to promptly control the insects attacks, the bacterial and fungal diseases, and the high temperature thermal shocks in the citrus plantation. The high temperature thermal shocks are one of main causes of the fruits falling prematurely. This innovation also piqued the interests of the Princes of Wales, Charles and Diana, who, during their trip around Sicily, visited the citrus plantations of Mr. Ciancio Sanfilippo, publisher of the daily newspaper La Sicilia, where one of the Polyguards were installed.
The arrival in China – In 1985 A.I.D. won the International tender for the innovation and the transfer of new technologies to the Chinese citrus research center in Chongqin (China), where 25 technicians, including agronomists, plant pathologists, and chemists had worked for 5 years, coordinated by Dr. Torrisi as project leader. The project concluded in 1990 with the introduction of the new agronomic technologies and the development of the first pilot fruit and vegetables packing house to process and pack citrus fruits.
The orange juice vending machines
Vending – In 1987 the research project for the development of the first ever been orange juice vending machines was launched. The first generation of these machines consisted of 500 units manufactured between 1989 and 1991. Some of them, after 20 years, are still in operation.
Offshore World Championship
In 1987 A.I.D. sponsored, with the Oranfresh® brand, the Offshore World Championship of the 3E class, won and concluded in Catania by the Torrisi-Zurria couple.
The evolution of robotics
Between 1988 and 1989 was launched the first feasibility study to develop a robot able to locate the oranges on the trees and harvest them by cutting the stem.
Tour de France
In 1991 the Tour de France was also sponsored by Oranfresh® with its freshly squeezed orange juice vending machines, placed in Lyon, at Port de Versailles along the avenues, and at the major events of the Tour de France in Lyon. The big success of Oranfresh®’s innovation was publicly appreciated by the Mayor of Lyon, Michel Noir. The sponsorship created such big expectations for the citrus sector that it began to concern the big multinational corporations, introducing the fizzy drinks vending machines.
International patent of the squeezing system
The exclusive and highly innovative squeezing process, which separates the essential bitter oils of peels from the juice, was covered also by international patents. Using this new process, that was an authentic revolution in the field of citrus juice extraction, a wide range of machines for the Horeca sales channel (Hotel/Restaurant/Catering) and for the Vending channel were manufactured, attracting the attention of the largest food service companies, among them Autogrill, McDonald’s, Doutor Coffee, etc.
Some of the agroindustrial A.I.D activities, were merged into A.A.T. (Agrondustry Advanced Technology) SpA, specialized in the manufacturing of the automatic agroindustrial sector for the production of citrus squeezing machines for the Horeca and Vending channels, all with the trademark Oranfresh®.
At the end of the 90s and early 2000s the first prototype of an orange-picking robot was developed and equipped with a computer vision processing system.
During these years, new patents were registered. The new patent implements the same orange juice extraction process as the previous patents, but with the great innovation consisting in the juice flowing into a removable container to make the cleaning and maintenance easier both for the Horeca channel machines and for Vending machines.
The Leonardo Prizes
On the occasion of the Leonardo Prizes, the President of the Republic, Mr. Napolitano, conferred Dr. Torrisi on the recognition of the Special Prize of the Minister Emma Bonino for International Trade.
The Expressa, the smallest orange squeezing commercial machine with the best quality/price ratio, was developed, using an innovative “Made in Italy” design to promote the consumption of small size oranges.
New vending machines
Start up of the new generation vending machines that includes four models, among them the “Take Away” model, which was developed, manufactured, and covered by an innovative patent with an automatic heat-sealing system of 360 ml cups. This model has found great success on the market.
The expansion of Oranfresh continues with the acquisition of new important customers, both in the Horeca sector, such as McDonald’s and MSC Cruises, and in the FMCG sector, with the introduction of self-service machines inside the Carrefour stores, Auchan, Edeka, Conad and Coop.
Oranfresh celebrates the goal of the 3,000 Vending machines installed, becoming world leader in the healthy vending machines sector. In the same year, Oranfresh Asia, based in Hong Kong, was set up to better assist all the customers of the Asian continent, more and more oriented towards the consumption of healthy products.
The vending machine for apple juice
Oranfresh introduces the new automatic vending machine for apple juice. It is the only vending machine in the world which offers fresh apple juice in a few seconds, without adding water or sugar, thanks to a special centrifugation system.
Oranfresh Usa, is established in Las Vegas to meet the growing demand for healthy products and to better assist all customers on the American continent. In the same year, Oranfresh launches the concept of JuiceBar, that combines a fast food formula with natural and healthy products.
Oranfresh looks towards the future.
The research continues, to constantly innovate the Vending and Horeca sectors and to spread a wellness culture. Oranfresh now has more than 5,000 Vending machines in the world. Numbers that reflect a global market and a growing demand for natural and fresh products. Numbers that testify the experience, the innovation and the reliability of Oranfresh.