• 29 Sep
    Serbia – A burst of flavours from every corner

    Serbia – A burst of flavours from every corner

     

    Juice specialist Remer Lane reports for FJF on the world of juice according to Serbia with insights into the unique fruits and flavours that make for award-winning juices.

    Friday morning, August 28, 2020, I turned the cap on the Life Premium Sour Cherry Juice. The aroma of the Oblacinska Cherry immediately stimulated a memory that carried me 17-years back in time to Serbia. I was sitting in a cafe on Lake Palic in Subotica. There, over 4 bottles of an exceptional Pannonian dry white wine, I outlined a strategy, debated, challenged, and cajoled the CEO of Fresh & Co Juice company to put Raspberries in a bottle. Within 3-years Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling had acquired the company. Over the three preceding years, that 100% Raspberry Juice had been awarded the World’s Most Innovative Juice at the World Juice Conference in 2004 and millions of bottles were in stores and cafes across Europe and in the US.

    Next Juice was a synonym for a vibrancy of change and innovation sweeping the former Yugoslav Republic, and the re-opening of a hidden market of amazing fruits bred exclusively to produce some of the world’s finest juices. The Willamette Raspberry, The Stanley Plum, the Oblacinska Cherry and Senga Sengana Strawberry are well known fruit varieties, offering the highest flavour, colour and dry matter solids over any other processing fruits. There is a reason Serbia is the largest exporter of frozen raspberries in the world.

    At the first taste, the burst of cherries overwhelmed my senses. The small particulates of fruit provided a texture as if fresh pressed in the kitchen. Naturalness truly represents the best a juice should be for all consumers.

    My reminiscing continued… It’s now 2008 and I’m hiking along the trails of Mt. Kaopanik in Southern Serbia. Vaso Lekic, a food purist for all that’s natural and healthy, has launched a new product line called Terra Organica. As we walk the surroundings of his processing plant, we can smell the smoke from grilling peppers that will soon be stripped and stewed into a delicacy of roasted red peppers spread called Ajvar. Vaso wants to do more and he believes the wild organic fruits of Southern Serbia offer some amazing potential. He casually picks a wild strawberry from the hillside and looks at me in wonderment. This is his next product.

    Without delay, he’s organized the local population surrounding the mountain to collect the fruit, preserve the environment and assure a future sustainable crop. The fruit was pressed in his mountainside kitchen and so was born Terra Organica’s Wild Strawberry Juice and Serbia’s second World Juice Innovation Award.

    Today, Serbia has the largest juice company in Southeastern Europe Nectar-Fructal with full vertical integration from field to consumer. There are up to 12 fruit juice processing plants in the country with exports exceeding USD50 million. Austria and Germany are the key importers by value with Raspberry, Sour Cherry and Apple as the leading exported concentrates with an expectation that Blueberry will soon be in the mix due to a significant surge in plantings. The juice this country produces is traditional, colourful and filled with flavour, it’s the naturalness and purity that truly represents what juice should be.

    I’ve just returned from my most recent visit to Serbia, two weeks of social distanced meetings and masks to learn more about the current state of industry in the country. I am further convinced that the quality of fruit that this small country produces is truly some of the finest in the world. Such a pleasant alternative to global politics and the pandemic.

    As I finish my Sour Cherry Juice, I wonder, is this the next winner? Will this Sour Cherry be the next to take home the recognition of being one of the best juices in the world? It is for me…

    Remer Lane is an international investment banker with Heritage Capital Group / Oaklins based in Savannah, GA. He has spent the last 35 years working with the food and juice industries playing a number or roles from field production to processing to offering a product to the final consumer.

     

     

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 14 Sep
    US – Ruling on cranberry health claims

    US – Ruling on cranberry health claims

    The US Food and Drug Administration announced recently in a letter of enforcement discretion that it does not intend to object to the use of certain qualified health claims regarding consuming certain cranberry products and a reduced risk of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) in healthy women.

    The FDA responded to a health claim petition submitted on behalf of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. The petition requested that the FDA authorize a health claim regarding the relationship between the consumption of cranberry products and the reduced risk of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) in healthy women. A health claim characterizes the relationship between a substance and a disease or health-related condition.

    After reviewing the petition and other evidence related to the proposed health claim, the FDA determined that the scientific evidence supporting the claim did not meet the ‘significant scientific agreement’ standard required for an authorized health claim, and the petitioner agreed to have the petition evaluated as a qualified health claim petition.

    Based on the FDA’s review, the agency concluded that there is limited and inconsistent credible scientific evidence to support a qualified health claim for the consumption of cranberry juice beverages and limited credible scientific evidence to support a qualified health claim for the consumption of cranberry dietary supplements and a reduced risk of recurrent UTI in healthy women. Specifically, the FDA intends to exercise its enforcement discretion regarding claims for the association between consumption of cranberry juice beverages containing at least 27% cranberry juice (most commercially available cranberry cocktails contain this amount) and cranberry dietary supplements containing at least 500 milligrams (mg) of cranberry fruit powder (100% fruit) and a reduced risk of recurrent UTI. The claims do not include other conventional foods or food products made from or containing cranberries, such as dried cranberries or cranberry sauce.

    The following qualified health claims are included in the FDA’s letter of enforcement discretion:

    For cranberry juice beverages
    • “Limited and inconsistent scientific evidence shows that by consuming one serving (8 oz) each day of a cranberry juice beverage, healthy women who have had a urinary tract infection (UTI) may reduce their risk of recurrent UTI.”
    • “Consuming one serving (8 oz) each day of a cranberry juice beverage may help reduce the risk of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) in healthy women. FDA has concluded that the scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited and inconsistent.”
    • “Consuming one serving (8 oz) each day of [this identified cranberry juice beverage] may help reduce the risk of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) in healthy women. FDA has concluded that the scientific evidence supporting this claim is limited and inconsistent.”
    For More Information FDA

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 14 Sep
    Global – PepsiCo pilots invisible digital watermark

    Global – PepsiCo pilots invisible digital watermark

    PepsiCo is trialling products encoded with invisible digital watermarks for more effective recycling, say the company. The technology is seen as something that will revolutionise mechanical sorting. The beverage giant and other packaging stakeholders are evaluating how to industrialize this solution for a more streamlined waste stream in the EU. They note that watermarks can be used in consumer engagement, supply chain visibility and retail operations.

    “This technology has the potential to make life simpler for consumers because they will not have to separate their packaging and worry about which plastic polymer is which. Instead, through this trial, our product packaging will be encoded with these invisible digital watermarks, which contain information about the manufacturer, product, material type and whether the packaging is food safe,” Gareth Callan, PepsiCo’s Holy Grail Project Lead commented. “When scanned by a high resolution camera on a waste sorting line, this information helps to sort the packaging into the right stream – meaning more high quality material can be recycled, more efficiently.”

    The project ‘HolyGrail 2.0’ is steered by PepsiCo together with more than 85 companies and organizations, led by the European Brands Association (AIM). The consortium aims to launch an industrial pilot to prove the viability of digital watermarks technologies. FoodIngredientsFirst

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 14 Sep
    Iran – Over USD38m worth of juice exported in four months

    Iran – Over USD38m worth of juice exported in four months

    Iran exported nearly 48,000 tonnes of fruit juice valued at USD38.107 million to other countries in the first four months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-July 21), the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) announced.

    As reported by IRNA, the exported products included fruit juices, mixtures of juice with vegetables, fruit extracts, fruit juice essential oils, non-alcoholic beverages, concentrated fruit juices, citrus juices including oranges, grapefruits, grape juice, apple juice, and pineapple juice, according to Ruhollah Latifi.

    More than 35 countries were the destination for the Iranian juice exports, including Germany, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Turkey, Pakistan, New Zealand, Russia, Norway, Turkey, and Kuwait.

    According to Latifi, Pakistan with more than USD9.665 million worth of imports stood in the first place among the top export destinations, followed by Turkey with more USD6.525 million, and Afghanistan with USD6.151 million. As reported, Iran also imported 2,111 tonnes of the mentioned products worth over USD2.101 million during the said four months.

    Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, UAE, Spain, Thailand, India, and Italy were the main exporters to Iran in the mentioned period. Thailand was the top juice exporter to Iran with 1,007 tonnes of pineapple juice and condensed pineapple juice worth USD2.106 sent to the Islamic country. TehranTimes

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 14 Sep
    US – OJ sales holding up well

    US – OJ sales holding up well

    According to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC), sales of 100% orange juice continue to show promising results. In the 4-week period ending Aug. 1, average year-over-year sales of total OJ increased 21% with 32.64 million equivalent gallons sold, per the latest Nielsen retail sales report. Sales of not-from-concentrate (NFC) OJ increased 27% for the period.

    Additionally, total OJ sales for the season beginning October 2019 are up by 12%. The increase in volume movement season-to-date is roughly equivalent to about 7 million grower boxes. The increase in NFC volume sold at retail captured by Nielsen is roughly equivalent to 4.3 million grower boxes.

    Total grapefruit juice sales were up by 4% for the season.

    In July, the FDOC launched its 2020-21 e-commerce campaign to drive sales of 100% orange juice through online retailers, with a shift to focus specifically on NFC OJ. To date, the campaign has driven more than USD1.06 million in attributed sales and 41.3 million impressions at a return on ad spend of USD5.19.

    In other FDOC news, Woman’s World and VeryWell Health published articles highlighting the FDOC-funded heart health study that showed 100% orange juice and hesperidin may help to lower blood pressure. Further promotion of the study and the benefits of hesperidin are ongoing. Source: Florida Department of Citrus & Citrus Industry Magazine

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 14 Sep
    EU Trade – Are you prepared for the UK’s exit from the EU customs union?

    EU Trade – Are you prepared for the UK’s exit from the EU customs union?

    Frank Dunsmuir, Fujitsu’s Head of Customs and International Trade, is responsible for thinking about this question and how a technology company like Fujitsu could provide some of the answers.

    The UK has been a member of the EU customs union for 47 years, which has facilitated the free movement of goods across the EU’s internal borders. How will the UK and EU avoid disruption to the vital trade in goods via road freight once it has formally exited the EU?

    Following the UK referendum vote to leave the EU on the 23rd June 2016, the Withdrawal Agreement was finally signed on January 31st, 2020, and the UK officially exited the EU. We are now in a transition period until the end of 2020, after which new customs procedures, and potentially tariff payments, will be introduced on goods moving between the UK and the EU.

    Trade in goods between the UK and EU is worth more than £430 billion annually, and vital to the health of both economies. In the run up to the end of the transition period the UK and the EU are locked in negotiations to agree a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA), with the intent of minimising disruption on this trade.

    But even with an FTA new customs administration such as declarations will still be required, and additional checks on some types of goods, including food products, will be required at ports of exit and entry. This administration adds cost, and increasing the number and nature of physical checks at ports threaten to disrupt existing supply chains.

    Fresh food, livestock and perishable foods are some of the most at risk commodities if delays are introduced at ports of exit and entry. The UK is highly dependent on the EU for its food supply, providing over 30 percent of its total requirements. The fruit and vegetable sectors are disproportionally represented with approximately 76 percent of vegetable imports and 41 percent of fruit and nuts imports originating from the EU.

    The bulk of this trade is transported by road freight, making the ports of Dover and EuroTunnel the busiest road freight RoRo (roll on roll off) ports in Europe. Handling a staggering average of 17,000 freight vehicles per day, worth an estimated £120bn in trade, leaves no spare time to stop and check vehicles in the ports without causing major congestion. Even moving these checks to special sites near the ports may not remove the threat of congestion.

    At the end of the transition period the UK will once again be in control of its borders. It therefore has the opportunity to develop and implement advanced border management solutions which ensure these supply chains and associated trade are not disrupted by new customs procedures and physical checks.

    We can turn for inspiration to a examples of global best practice in the efficient management of road freight border crossings. Often referred to as the ‘Drive Through Border’ (DTB) concept, a combination of policy and technology initiatives enable ‘smart’ freight vehicles to be automatically processed and pass unhindered through border crossing points.

    The foundations of a DTB are based on advanced Trusted Trader schemes (such as the EU’s Authorised Economic Operator ‘AEO’ scheme), enabling access to simplified customs procedures, which can be supported by technology to move checks away from the physical border. The promise of unhindered passage through the border and access to simplified customs procedures also reduce administration and supply chain costs to traders.

    The concept of a DTB is in action on borders across the world;

    Trials on the Canadian-USA border are in place today with FAST lanes allowing pre-registered vehicles to be automatically processes and rapidly cross the border.  In a similar way, pre-registered vehicles crossing the Norwegian-Swedish border experience significantly reduced processing times and delays.

    Meanwhile, closer to home, the port of Eurotunnel in Ashford in collaboration with its French counterpart of Coquelle has developed and tested a DTB concept to automate customs and border processing to maintain the flow of vehicles through its facilities. Freight vehicles are obliged to pre-register their vehicle and cargo details on their new ‘paring’ platform which electronically links customs declarations with the associated vehicles.  On entering the Eurotunnel port, the paring document is scanned and French customs administration are notified of the imminent departure of the vehicle and goods from the UK.  They are able to pre-clear or assign vehicles for mandatory inspections and spot checks, for example those containing controlled goods such as food, on arrival into Coquelle.

    The UK has also hinted at a DTB concept playing a role in its future border strategy. Its recently published new Border Operating Model[1] describes the processes it will introduce to manage road freight between the UK and the EU. This model includes a new platform called the Goods Vehicle Management System (GVMS) which will collect consignment data for each vehicle journey in a similar way to the Eurotunnel system, helping to automate some of the processing at other ports such as Dover.

    The government has also recently published a consultation document on what the UK’s future border management strategy may be, which looks to maximising the promise of benefits from new and emerging technology[2].  At Fujitsu we are continually investing our research into the role technology has to play in the future management of the UK’s border.

    Fujitsu’s concept of a DTB for the UK has four main features which support the ability for freight vehicles to enter and exit sea ports as seamlessly as possible:

    1. Data is collected electronically for each journey and assigned to the vehicle or trailer, including; customs documents, invoice details, vehicle / trailer ID, and drivers ID.
    2. Border agencies (UK & EU) are automatically notified of a vehicle’s imminent arrival into the port of exit, together with the nature of its consignment(s)
    3. Pre-arrival checks and processing can be performed by the corresponding port of entry while the vehicle is at the port of exit or onboard the carrier (ferry or train) making its way to the port of entry
    4. Prior to arrival at the port of entry, vehicles can be pre-sorted into pre-cleared or requiring checks lanes or facilities.

    The main challenges for exporters of food and animal products will be the requirement to demonstrate proof of origin of their goods, together with compliance to the EU, or UK, market standards depending on intended final destination. For example, goods imported from Spain into the UK would need to be compliant to UK standards and adhere to customs administration processes.

    These types of checks typically need to happen at border points of exit and entry, in the EU – UK case that will mean the major sea ports. Fujitsu’s DTB concept, combined with a Trusted Trader scheme could be used to move such checks away from the ports. For example, a registered orange producer in Spain exporting produce to the UK could use the DTB platform to transport these goods. At the point of dispatch the goods are checked, health certificates issued and they are approved to be exported. On approaching the port of exit, for example Calais, the Smart truck which is transporting them sends information digitally to the port and border agencies informing them of the nature of the goods, sharing the customs declarations and health certificates, together with their status as a trusted trader. In this scenario the vehicle should be subject to a low percentage of random physical checks at both ports of exit and entry.

    In summary, the ‘Drive Through Border’ concept combined with an enhanced Trusted Trader scheme would enable:

    • Goods vehicles to move with minimal friction through the channel crossing ports
    • Regulatory checks on goods and food products to be performed ‘in market’, reducing the need for additional physical checks at the border
    • Automation of customs administration, reducing cost to industry and government agencies
    • Health and security standards to be maintained through in-market monitoring
    • The acceleration of the introduction of simplified customs procedures such as self-assessment.

    Fujitsu believes that, by working collaboratively with government and industry, innovative technology solutions can play a major role in establishing a future border management capability to support the highly efficient movement of goods between the UK and the EU.

    [1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-border-operating-model

    [2] https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/2025-uk-border-strategy-public-consultation/2025-uk-border-strategy-public-consultation

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 14 Sep
    The future of Passion Fruit consumption

    The future of Passion Fruit consumption

    Passion Fruit

    Over the past 25 years, Quicornac has evolved from being a small scale passion fruit producer to a thriving, high capacity multinational shipping passion fruit and mango NFC and concentrate to over 32 countries around the world. What’s next for passion fruit?  Harry Frei, Executive at Quicornac and Ricardo Merino, Commercial Manager talks to FJF to tell us more about this unique flavored fruit.

    Passion for the fruit

    Passion fruit has two things that stand out from the rest: Its name – passion and its taste. Adding a little passion to your life mixed with a flavour that is both tropical and intense, are the two things that stand out the most, say the company. A taste so unique, no other fruit provides the same level of experience. It has to be one the tastiest, most experience-rich flavour there is. It’s the perfume of fruits. There are also added nutritional benefits of the fruit besides its taste.

    Functional benefits

    Passion fruit has great added benefits with a healthful nutritional profile. It contains high levels of Vitamin A, which is important for skin, vision, and the immune system, and vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant. Passion fruit is rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that help to mop up harmful free radicals in the body.

    Antioxidants play a vital role in keeping the body systems healthy. Scientists know that antioxidants improve blood flow, specifically to the brain and nervous system. Passion fruit has also a low glycemic index (GI) value. This means that it does not cause a steep increase in blood sugar after consuming it, making it a good option for people with diabetes. Passion fruit is loaded with heart-healthy potassium and is also low in sodium. Passion fruit is rich in magnesium, an important mineral that scientists have linked with decreased stress and anxiety. There is so much to love about this fruit.

    Our growers make the difference

    “Like in any fruit, quality comes from the fields, says Harry Frei. “We have a team of agronomists whose sole purpose is to teach farmers how to produce the right quality. This means from selecting the best seed or seedlings, to harvesting in a safe and dedicated manner. While passion fruit is a robust fruit once picked, it needs to arrive to our processing locations as quickly as possible to preserve the best aroma and juice properties.”

    Market opportunities

    The most significant markets for passion fruit products, are currently the EU, USA, and some parts of Asia. “We see a solid urgency of demand in Asia as locals begin familiarizing with the fruit.”Ricardo Merino reports.

    “It is difficult to pinpoint exact market size, but we estimate a total export market between 22.000 to 25.000 MT of 50 brix equivalent. This includes converted NFC which should account to around a third of the total market. The market size refers to known exports from main producing areas such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Vietnam. There is also a strong local consumption which accounts to juice products that stays in the country of origin, for example in Brazil, Colombia, China, Peru and Vietnam that does not show in the export statistics.”

    Increasing demand

    “We estimate the demand has been rising over the last 20 years at a rate of 2-3 % per annum. Biggest swings up or down have been due to supply/demand and crop cycles, which has been traditionally variable over the last 10 years or so however, as new producing regions like Peru have begun to produce in larger quantities, and now recently Vietnam.

    “Since then, the price has stabilized in a much narrower trading range and has helped the demand pick up. We believe that the trading range will be even narrower in the coming years as there are multiple origins that can produce passion fruit.” Comments Ricardo Merino.
    Keeping pace

    “All the work has been in promoting farmers and helping them produce more, “says Harry Frei. “We all know that adding capacity or setting up a new processing site is relatively easy, but having control of the fruit supply is key.

    “90% of our work evolves around our farmers network; constantly promoting the crop, helping them with new farming techniques and provide them with better seed. The fresh local consumption has also helped as farmers net higher prices from the local market.

    “They now average much better returns than in the past, in fact most farmers today take better care of their plantations and are motivated to continue producing more in areas where local consumption is solid. This is the case of Peru where we estimate that more than 30% of the fruit stays local. In Ecuador, most of the fruit goes to factories so producers traditionally get a lower average return.

    “But there are other conditions that favour Ecuadorean producers such as shorter distances, excellent soil conditions, crops all year, plenty of water for irrigation and good demand from producing factories all year long. Ecuador still produces the best tasting passion fruit and more reliable supply than any other region in our opinion.”
    A great source of pride

    Harry Frei comments “We continually adjust our production lines to produce the best of juice, at the lowest possible impact. Many of the equipment we own given our vast experience have been tailored made and designed in our shops to treat the delicate passionfruit. We have, since 1989, leading not just the production and the export of passion fruit, but also lead the promotion of passion fruit juice worldwide.

    “We are proud to see many of the biggest juice companies using passion fruit in their product range today. And not just juice. There are plenty of other food applications where you can find passion fruit in. This process was not easy, took us years, traveling and lots of investment to continue expanding both our farmers and customer base. Even to this day.”
    What makes us unique

    “We are focused on one fruit: Passion fruit. While we also have mango because many of our farmers also produce this fruit nearby, passion fruit is what we are known and proud for, says Ricardo Merino. “While obviously the market for passion fruit is much smaller that say, mango, we pride ourselves to be the leader in this niche, and as we say, we prefer to be the mouse head than the lion’s tail.”
    What does the future hold

    Harry Frei comments “Besides the traditional markets, launching new products every year with passion fruit, we see Asia as a new potential market. Their local production of passion fruit is helping fuel local demand and also, they are also starting to like the taste for the fruit a lot. It is not uncommon now to see street vendors selling a refreshing passion fruit juice alongside local dishes in many parts of Cambodia, China, Laos, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    “The USA is also a big market to keep an eye on, as more Latino influence boost the consumption of passion fruit. It is key however that the fresh fruit demand also grows (fruit imported from other countries), so that the fruit becomes more of a staple rather than an exotic garnish or occasional treat.”

     

    Keeping customers happy

    “We need to make sure we produce on time and deliver our goods to our customers as promised. While certainly we work with our existing customer base providing them with timely information about crop cycles and pricing, we also look for each country main juice producing companies and work hand in hand, first with their R&D department, comments Ricardo Merino
    Sustainability credentials

    “Since 1989, we have been focusing on sustainability”, comments Harry Frei. “Every day we support our Ecuadorian and Peruvian farmers providing them with technical support and the promise of buying their crop. Our technicians give them access to qualified advice and drive them to be more efficient at their fields.

    “Since 2015 we have carried out SMETA audits in both of our factories, focusing our sustainable strategy on ethical trade, responsible sourcing, health, security and environmental compliance. And since 2020, we have started our sustainability program on farms. Our aim is to achieve 10% of our passionfruit production under FSA Bronze level by 2021. This sustainability assessment contributes to farmers’ economic viability as well as environmental and social compliance. Every year, we raise the bar.”
    Challenges of the Covid-19 year

    “We have always focused on the human pillar and during this pandemic our commitment was no different,“ comments Harry Frei. “Since the beginning, we provided protective personal equipment and sanitization materials to our people. We have also implemented safety procedures for everyone attending to our process facilities. As for our fruit suppliers, we have maintained our early-payment policy; giving them stability to continue in business. Additionally, we have contributed with donations to our local communities to help them cover basic needs.

    “The pandemic has affected our supply chain in many ways. While the Ecuadorian and the Peruvian governments have restricted circulation, and created multiple mobility requirements across many sectors, we have come out strong by following local laws and guidelines, working alongside with our fruit suppliers and transportation. To this date, more than 95% of our fruit supply chain has returned to pre-covid times.
    “We have learned a lot. No matter how important is how we conduct business, it’s all boils down to people. Luckily, technology has been helpful in bridging this gap. Imagine if we would have just a facsimile like in the old days. Today, we can say, we are more than ever closer to our farmers and customers. Technology and pandemic have definitely changed our working practices in several aspects. This allowed us to be more efficient with our time and resources,” Ricardo Merino concludes.

    Quicornac

    Almost 30 years of growth fuelled with quality products, product innovations, and investment in new technologies has positioned Quicornac as a leader in the juice raw material processing industry. Founded in 1989, the company is a privately held company headquartered in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and employing around  500 people in Ecuador and Peru.

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 14 Sep
    Juice and alcohol/alternatives 

    Juice and alcohol/alternatives 

    Redefining juice

    Today people want to be productive and at the same time feel healthy and well – not just physically, also mentally. Diet plays a crucial role in this. It is obvious that juice today is much more than just a thirst quencher. Gerd Diefenthäler, Innovation & Market Intelligence Manager for Austria Juice reports.

    While health and wellbeing have never been as high on the list of values of global consumers as they are today, the hit list of drinks has also changed dramatically in recent years. Not long ago, for example, beer, wine, champagne, sparkling wine, cocktails and long drinks were simply a part of enjoying parties, private celebrations and relaxing evenings at home.

    Today, alcoholic drinks are increasingly replaced by alcohol-free or at least alcohol-reduced alternatives. ‘Mocktails’, for example, are the non-alcoholic successors to cocktails – and juices made from a wide variety of fruits and berries are the main players in their preparation.

    But that’s not all, consumers all over the world are not only looking for healthy ‘free from’-drinks, but also for drinks that actively promote their health. Today they search for holistic solutions that help them to change their lifestyle in all areas of life. The ingredients in food and drinks should be natural and ideally organic, the production sustainable, the taste unique and surprising with the ‘wow effect’, the value for the body or mind should be targeted and clear. Juices play an important role with their flavours and valuable ingredients.

    Mixed juice drinks for relaxation and concentration

    There is enormous potential in juices, smoothies and mixed drinks made from juices with teas or functional water for holistically improving health and meeting the needs of modern consumers. The demand for products like this is increasing worldwide: According to the market research institute Mintel, 40% of adults in Chile and Australia state that their diet should also raise their energy level – in India 49% share this opinion. Worldwide, 52% of consumers are interested in products that help reduce stress. 45% have changed their diet with the aim of improving their sleep, especially since sleep problems are becoming more and more common due to the increasing occurrence of stress, depression and anxiety.

    Herbs and herbal ingredients are said to effect health clearly: 60% of consumers worldwide are of the opinion that botanicals have a positive effect on their health. This is why the use of juices in combination with ingredients such as chamomile, lavender or hops, which improve sleep and relaxation, is increasing in the development of beverages in the functional drinks category.

    The addition of B vitamins, adaptogens and nootropic substances promotes concentration and alertness and antioxidants help detoxify.

    Stand out ingredients

    The rising stars of beverage ingredients include adaptogens, which are natural substances that help the body to adapt to increased stressful situations without having an overstimulating effect. CBD, turmeric, ginseng, rose root and ashwagandha are certainly the best-known examples that are more and more finding their way into the recipes of beverage manufacturers.

    Juice drinks strengthen the immune system and eye health

    Since COVID-19, strengthening the immune system has also climbed the list of priorities of consumers. Therefore citrus and berry juices come into focus because of their high vitamin C- and antioxidant content. Likewise, consumers demand for fast, nutrient-rich food and beverage solutions, which are available in the form of clean label juice shots, is also increasing.

    Since people nowadays usually spend several hours in front of different kinds of screens, – professionally and privately alike – the attention towards eye health is rising: Vitamin A, zinc, riboflavin or DHA can be added to juices to specifically promote eye health. Carrot juice is also suitable here because it contributes to a healthy lifestyle and supports eye health with vitamin A naturally.

    Hydration with less fruit juice content but full flavour

    For the participants of a worldwide survey by Mintel, ‘healthy’ means – among other things – that food contains no artificial ingredients and little fat, that they are a good source of vitamins and minerals and convince with low calories and a high fiber content. As a result, soft drinks with a high water content and a lower juice content continue to have potential on the market due to lower calories and the valuable ingredients of juice.

    Additionally, sugar reduced juice concentrates come into play in nowadays beverage developments, too. The new success-factor for beverages and juices are also (new) taste experiences.

    ‘Taste Experience’ is a current megatrend that is impressively shaping the world of the food and beverage industry. It’s about pure consumer experiences, about taking the consumer on an adventure triggered by sensory, visual and haptic experiences. Unusual, spicy or exotic flavour combinations, which especially in times of COVID-19 and travel restrictions conjure a bit of travel-flavour into the glass at home, ensure new taste adventures. The possibilities for using fruit and vegetable juices are therefore diverse – in terms of taste and concept.

    New beverage concepts require know-how

    The development of new beverage concepts, especially with the use of fruit and vegetable juices, brings also challenges that require appropriate market knowledge and extensive know-how for the exact matching of ingredients. Products with fruit juice often have a complex product matrix. They contain e.g. water, fruit juice, sugar, aroma, coloring foods, vitamins, edible acids, stabilizers, etc. – and even the smallest adjustments to the dosage of an ingredient can make the difference between a completely unstable product or perfect product stability. For example, it is important to prevent flocculation, cloudiness, sedimentation or rapid product aging in terms of taste. Depending on the ingredient, external influences such as temperature or UV radiation must also be taken into account.

    Stabilizing the drinks is crucial

    In the case of alcoholic beverages such as mixed beer beverages, cider or hard seltzer, the interaction of the alcoholic base such as beer, cider and fermented glucose with fruit juice makes it difficult to stabilize the drink. Roughly, the following applies here: the higher the alcohol content, the higher the risk of flocculation. Low alcohol contents of up to 2.5% ABV are often not a major problem. Stabilizations above that are also possible.

    Long-term reproducibility also plays an important role for all industrially produced beverages. The standardization of the raw materials is essential, so that the juices are expertly blended from different qualities after the harvest in order to guarantee the consumer a consistent quality.

    At Austria Juice the know-how is bundled in one source – from market research to the beverage concept, from fruit growing to the finished recipe and ingredient supply. In this way we offer our customers the best possible support for their diverse projects.

    By Caroline Calder Features