Wootzano secures £161m Canadian deal as it continues to attract international customers

Wootzano's Avarai technology is finding success in the US market.
-Credit: (Image: Wootzano)

North East robotics innovator Wootzano has landed another significant overseas deal, this time in Canada.

The County Durham-based creator of packing systems for the food industry has secured a £161m supply deal with Xcela Inc which will see the firms working together over five years. The first of Wootzano's robots are expected to land in Ontario later this year - an area that is said to be the vine tomato growing capital of the whole North American continent.

Over the course of the contract the North East firm will supply more than 2,000 robots which will be used to delicately pack tomatoes destined for the shelves of grocery retailers across Canada and North America. The deal gives Xcela, which supports agricultural businesses, exclusivity over Wootzano's technology which is making waves around the world in an industry challenged by labour shortages.

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Dr Atif Syed, CEO and founder of Wootzano, had travelled to Canada to initiate the agreement which comes on the back of a significant inroads made into the US market, for the North East engineers. Last year Wootzano announced a partnership in California to supply its Avarai systems into the multibillion-dollar grape growing industry.

The firm teamed up with Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, a public-private partnership which supports new businesses with site selection, among other things, and The British Consulate General in San Francisco to support its efforts in the US, where it hopes it will appeal to producers with large packaging sheds. California alone is said to account for the growing of a quarter of the nation's food supply.

This latest deal in Canada presents a similar opportunity for the tech to be used across significant growing and packing operations that stretch across the south of the Canadian province, towards the US border. Xcela is a key supplier into the market, offering specialist horticultural lighting, photosynthesis enhancement equipment, water purification kit and robots.

Wootzano's tech, developed out of its NETPark base in County Durham, is billed as the world's most dexterous fresh produce packing robot. The firm has developed a 'skin' which gives its robotic arms greater sensory awareness - akin to human touch - which is needed to perform delicate packing work without bruising fruit and vegetables.

The Avarai units take up about the same space as human worker and are equal in cost per hour, but with enhanced productivity. They are capable of sophisticated weight estimation and can snip vine produce to exact specifications.

Last year Wootzano brought international industry leaders to the North East to demonstrate the systems which are designed to work on a production line.