China is one of the leading countries for organic products, and has a 2.1 million hectare organic planting base. The growing base is expanding by 10% annually. The annual production of 200,000 tons of gojis are grown on 1.6 million hectares.
The berries grow on shrubs, with an average height of 1.5m, some can be as high as 3m. Ours are processed as follows in our state-of-the-art facility:
First of all, mature and tender fresh berries are hand-picked, and only the best quality gojis are selected. Next, they are run through an air-separator to remove any foreign material. They then go through a metal detector to remove any metal fragments that might be present. Once that is complete they are spread out on trays and oven dried until the moisture content is reaches about 14%.
Traditionally, goji berries were sun-dried and there are still some companies that promote the fact that their gojis are sun-dried. There are a couple of reasons that we don’t do this with our gojis. First of all, it takes about one week in the sun for gojis to dry. This means the gojis are sitting outside, in the sun for a week and there is a risk of contamination by insects, pathogens or other foreign material. In addition, because of the fact that goji berries are different sizes, there is no way to achieve a uniform moisture content. This means that some gojis will be dry and hard and some will be too moist and could get moldy. Our gojis are dried in a sterile environment to prevent any type of contamination from insects or bacteria and the moisture content is controlled to about 13-14%.
After drying, the gojis are color selected to remove any residual foreign material, stems, leaves and other impurities. They then go through another metal detector to insure food safety. They are then packed in poly-lined cartons.