• 18 Jan
    Brazil – Orange crop forecast and juice production 2021/22

    Brazil – Orange crop forecast and juice production 2021/22

    CROP ROUND-UP

     

    Global output of oranges could be looking slightly more positive for this year in many regions. However, the bounce back for Brazilian output does not look as strong as the industry had hoped.

     

    BRAZIL’S 2020/21 ORANGE CROP 

    The Fundecitrus 2020/21 orange crop forecast update for the São Paulo and West-Southwest Minas Gerais citrus belt in Brazil is 269.36 million boxes, 17.36 million boxes lower than the previous projection in September of 286.72 million boxes and 18.40 million boxes below the initial forecast.

    Production has significantly hindered by late rainfall in the Brazilian spring coupled with intense heat. Should this new projection be realised, it will result in the largest crop loss for the citrus belt since the beginning of the historical series in 1988/89 and a downturn of 30.36% in comparison to the previous crop.

    Fundecitrus

     BRAZILIAN ORANGE AND ORANGE JUICE PRODUCTION 2021/22 (UP)

    The commercial area in the state of Sao Paulo and the western part of Minas Gerais should contribute 315 million boxes (12.85 million tonnes) in the forthcoming 2021/22 season, an increase of 17% relative to the revised figure for current 2020/21 season (269.4 million boxes or 10.99 million tonnes).

    The lack of rainfall and high temperatures during September-October 2020 prevented the first blossoming in several citrus growing regions, is expected to reduce the full potential for the 2021/22 citrus output. However, the second blossoming occurred in October and November and benefited from the rainfall content and moderate temperatures. Production from other states is projected stable at 100 million boxes (4.08 million tonnes), similar to the 2020/21 season. Nevertheless, the USDA says it is still too early to project total orange production for the 2020/21 season and more accurate numbers will be available during the first quarter of 2021.

    Orange juice

    Total Brazilian FCOJ (65 brix equivalent) production for 2021/22 is estimated at 1.157 million tonnes, an increase of 192 000 tonnes compared with output the previous season.

    The Sao Paulo industry is expected to process 275 million boxes for orange juice production (190 million boxes for FCOJ and 85 million boxes for NFC production), accounting for 1.061 million tonnes of juice (730 000 tonnes of FCOJ and 331 000 tonnes of NFC converted to FCOJ equivalent). Other producing states should deliver 24 million boxes, accounting for 96 000 tonnes of juice.

    Total Brazilian FCOJ (65 brix equivalent) production for 2020/21 has been revised downward to 965 000 tonnes. The USDA projects total Brazilian FCOJ exports for 2021/22 at 1.08 million tonnes, unchanged from 2020/21.

    Stocks

    Ending stocks for the 2020/21 crop are forecast at 136 000 tonnes (65 brix), compared with carryover stocks of 134 000 tonnes in 2019/20. The USDA stock figures only include stocks in the storage tanks of orange juice facilities (processing plants and port terminals) in Brazil. They do not include stocks owned by Brazilian companies abroad, e.g. in transit and port terminals in the US, Europe and Japan.

    According to CitrusBR, global Brazilian orange juice inventories were at 471 138 tonnes (FCOJ equivalent) on 30 June 2020. This includes orange juice in storage tanks at processing plants and port terminals in Brazil and stocks abroad (vessels and port facilities worldwide).

     

    By Caroline Calder Trade Data
  • 15 Jan
    Agroforestry in citrus – Mexico

    Agroforestry in citrus – Mexico

    A sustainable growth model for Yucatan orange juice, reports Remer Lane

    The citrus industry of Mexico has grown into the largest supplier of orange juice by value to the United States accounting for 48% of imports in 2019. While Brazil still holds the title of the largest supplier of orange juice to the global market, accounting for 36% of total supply by value, Mexico is growing fast and strategically positioned to continue to grow as the primary supplier to the US.

    This was not always the case and the growth in Mexican exports to the US has been at the cost of the Florida crop. Suffering from a variety of challenges, but primarily Huanglongbing (HLB) or Citrus Greening Disease, the Florida crop has dropped from a peak of 9.9 million tonnes to a current USDA crop forecast for the 2020-21 Season of 2.3 million tonnes, opening the door to Mexico’s 4.7 million tonne production to more than double its supply of Orange Juice by value between 2011 and 2019 from USD151 million to USD341 million.

    Mexico has not avoided HLB but has not suffered as much as Florida and in some regions, such as the Yucatan, there has been very little impact. While orange yields per hectare in the Yucatan are about 73% of Mexico’s 14.5 tonnes per hectare, there is one fascinating reason contributing to such a discrepancy (but it’s not just the heat). The only citrus processor in the Yucatan is Arpen Juice.

    Arpen (www.Arpen.mx) is a boutique juice processor whose special and particular clients greatly appreciate. They don’t just process orange, but also lime, lemon, tangerine, grapefruit, and uniquely bitter orange. Furthermore, they don’t own any farms and are supplied solely by Fairtrade certified smallholders who as a cooperative own a percentage of Arpen.

    Agroforestry approach

    What is unique about Arpen is the level of support to their farmers. Arpen is enabling an agroforestry model. While this approach slightly decreases the average yields per hectare, it offers distinctive advantages: regenerative agriculture; improved soil nutrition; reduced impact from climate change; biodiversity; improved wildlife habitat; reduced herbicide and pesticide use; improved quality; and a social impact of 10-months of farmer income through multi-cropping.

    What this approach and especially the biodiversity have provided is crop protection against issues such as HLB which while present is not causing any significant issues. Arpen is staking their operations on a sustainable-regenerative agroforestry model in coordination with reNature (www.renature.co) who are investing in the Citrus Agroforestry Education Center in Mexico. With additional coordination with Terra Group (www.terra.bz) , Arpen and the farmers are linked to a global network of agribusiness advisory, investors and technologies focused on improving agriculture production and the environment.

    Future prospects

    The future for Mexican orange and citrus juices is bright. The USDA reports a 5-Year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for Mexican FCOJ at 6% with a production CAGR of 5%. Global market share projections for Mexican FCOJ under HTS 200911, expect Mexico to grow from 12% market share in 2018 to an 18% market share by 2023, as prepared by Fingalee Analytics with the United States being the primary destination market.

    While the US and EU have experienced consumption contractions over the past few years, ResearchAndMarkets as reported in Business Wire projects global consumption to grow with an anticipated CAGR of +0.6% from 2018 to 2025 bringing total market volume to 2.5 million tonnes by the end of 2025.

    The key pressure points on the industry are sustainability, social impact, environmental impact, consumer preferences, and health concerns about sugar. The big turn-around bonus in times of COVID-19 has been the resurgence in demand for vitamin C and the health benefits attributed to the consumption of orange juice.

    The Yucatan is ahead in addressing sustainability and regenerative issues and is paying special attention to the Social Impact through diversified production of the Agroforestry model to move away from a commodity-based product to a more value-added impactful product. While many have lamented the fall of orange juice, the future looks promising for Mexico and with companies like Arpen and the efforts of farmers in the Yucatan, the consumption of orange juice will transition to being a premium beverage, prized by consumers.

    Remer Lane is an international investment banking consultant and serves as President for Fingalee Analytics and Terra Organics. He has spent the last 35-years working with the food and juice industries throughout the world from field production to processing to offering a product to the final consumer. Through COVID-19, he has continued to travel to Tanzania, Serbia and Mexico on behalf of his clients to assure continued operations and opportunities for increased profitability.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 12 Jan
    Your comments – Outlook 2021 – COVID-19 and beyond

    Your comments – Outlook 2021 – COVID-19 and beyond

    As we finally hope to put 2020 behind us, we look forward to 2021 and beyond and the time when some normality may finally return to the way we interact and do business.  The effects of COVID-19 will be with us for a while to come, here’s how YOU are getting ready for the year ahead.

    – – – – – – – –

    Andrii Humenchuk, Global Sales Director, Sambor, Poland

    “COVID-19 affected the HORECA/cinemas/cruises/airlines businesses most badly, which, I think, resulted in at least 40% decrease in consumption of apple juice concentrate globally. Even with several big players not producing AJC due to different reasons this season the prices were stable, which proves the demand to go down significantly.

    “On the other hand, many bottlers in Germany, as the biggest AJC consumer in the EU, are family-owned businesses, and they are suffering most, as HORECA is their highest margin segment. Hence, they were either buying small volumes of AJC at the lowest price available, or not buying at all.

    “The apple crop in the EU was relatively good, and we might expect some volumes of high quality raw material to be released from cold storages for processing quite soon, as the farmers’ expectations for high prices of apples for the fresh market are not coming true. In summer 2020 the prices were reaching 3 PLN to compare with 1 PLN at the moment.

    “To sum up, the EU AJC market will be flat, with prices around 1.05-1.15 euro/kg FCA Poland in bulk. For Apple NFC the EU market demand looks much better. With enough raw material and steady production in winter-spring 2021 we expect the prices at 0.2-0.25 euro/kg FCA Poland in bulk.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Annick Casier, President of Odyssey FoodTrans, USA

    Pandemic crisis observations: “2020 marked a year of significant ‘catch-up’ technology adoption for many in the global food supply chain. In the early stages of the pandemic, for example, many companies had to find new ways to navigate supply chain disruptions and volatility. As a result, we saw an increased need for high impact tracking and tracing technologies, which provided our fruit juice and bulk liquid food customers with the additional visibility they needed. This technology (and the humans behind it) gave companies across the globe access to proactive communications and much needed peace-of-mind as they sought to adapt to fluctuating consumer demand over the last year. “

    Outlook 2021: “Supply chains will continue to globalize. But in a market that heavily relies on tight turnaround times and reducing costs, customers will need to adopt new technologies and smarter shipping methods to retain their competitive advantage and improve efficiencies wherever possible. For example, we expect to see growth in the use of refrigerated and aseptic ISO tanks – which allow for improved product safety and quality during transport and eliminate the need for additional processes and containers that slow down shipping times and increase cost. An aseptic transportation process can eliminate the need for multiple safety steps at destination, such as double pasteurization, which can alter flavour and colour. It offers the flexibility to transport by road, rail and sea—creating an end-to-end supply chain solution that simplifies shipping tasks from a customer perspective.

    We also expect to see increased access to sensitive product categories in geographic regions that previously had limited aseptic resources. Traditionally, the food and beverage market in areas with limited aseptic resources have relied on conventional packaging such as drums, bags or totes. The introduction of an aseptic ISO tank fleet can help deliver new cost savings and increase productivity, while also improving product quality. Moreover, the shift to intermodal tanks will support sustainability efforts, as intermodal tanks are stackable, reusable and have a smaller carbon footprint. Costa Rica is one example of a blossoming geographic region that Odyssey FoodTrans aims to supply with much-needed, advanced aseptic supply chain capacity, as its role in the food and beverage industry continues to expand.”

    Brexit: “We are all poised to see how Brexit will affect the juice industry and our bulk, food-grade liquid logistics business. A recent piece in the press warned of a shortage in citrus and exotic fruits (among other produce) because of the border disruptions between France and the UK. This illustrates the many unanswered questions we in the food supply chain industry have and leave us looking for creative solutions to the new cross-border issues that now exist. However, one thing we expect to see is an increased access to European-based storage facilities with a goal of improving just-in-time delivery across the continent.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Tamar Klein, Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, Trisun, Israel

     “We were concerned that the coronavirus crisis, which led many industries and businesses to a significant slowdown in activity, will hit even harder the beverage industry due to lower consumption of juices in the private sector and significant slowdown in businesses such as restaurants, food preparation, tourism businesses and other related businesses.

    “In reality, it seems that this scenario did not happen in the beverage industry, on the contrary. Trisun experienced an increase in sales, and a demand for NFC (Not from concentrate) and JC (Juice Concentrate) of orange, lemon, Grapefruit, Berries, Carrots and others. In our view, the pandemic has led to the phenomenon of consumers returning to the consumption of fruit juices and beverages that are perceived as contributing to health, due to their natural nutrients such as vitamin C.

    “We have also witnessed an increase trend in the demand for citrus oils and by-products which can be also attributed to this trend. We anticipate that this trend will continue in 2021, even after the pandemic is eradicated. We hope and tend to believe that the market demand for fruit juices will continue to rise, as natural beverages become more and more a part of the daily routine of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition. This increase in final products will of course lead to a further increase in demand for NFC/JC products.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Mateusz Świętanowski, Concentrates, IQF & Puree Sales Manager, Quadrum Foods, Poland

    “In my personal opinion, making any predictions at this time is like playing roulette.

    Even before 2020 started, precise forecasts were rather scarce.  Now adding the new global pandemic into equation as an additional factor for consumer behaviour, makes I believe, any forecasting a guess at best.”

     

    – – – – – – – –

    Claudio Di Genova, Commercial Manager, SA Veracruz, Argentina

    “2021 will be a difficult year for Lemons in Argentina, as a long drought during 2020 is affecting productivity. Estimations talk about 40% reduction in next Lemon crop 2021.We hope prices rise and accompany high costs that are expected for the fruit.

    “Of course, this will also depend on the context of COVID-19 and the recovery of global economy.

    “We hope vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel, and hotels, restaurants, bars, coffee shops opening and helping consumption for every product.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Anton Reinecke, Managing Director, Ceres Fruit Processors (Pty), South Africa

    “Like most people I expect the direct effect to be with us until well into the second half of 2021. South Africa’s latest lockdown variant includes an alcohol ban. However, the duration of this is quite short – only 3 weeks. So we are hoping for a muted effect. None of our immediate shipments to cider brewers have been affected, but this is only to one customer at this point.”

    – – – – – – – –

    David Ferreira, Head Brazil Operations, The Orange Continent Ltda

    “I think it looks like 2021 will be a promising year because people are looking for nutritional and functional products to help protect health. However, despite the pandemic and all the economic questions, uncertainty will continue flying over us ‘like a ghost’. For me, we cannot forget about the climate question that affects all planet.

    “Sustainability is key – juice, natural juices (concentrated or not) fruit or vegetable based products, are produced under sun, rain, and over ground. So, the climate question must be a priority with low gas emissions so we can produce food as sustainably and environmentally as possible.

    “Looking back at 2020 Brazil (São Paulo State), experienced the worst season on citrus. Low quantity oranges, the consequence of long drought periods and associated highest temperatures. The  blooming disappeared, fruits dropped, and remaining fruit on trees presented inconsistencies never observed in recent times, like very high brix (soluble solids) against lowest ratio (high acidity).  Climate is the biggest challenge for me and to growers, because these are things that cannot be managed. Governments around world must now align to protect the planet. Water, ground, air, forests – these are indispensables to our survival.

    “I think markets will buy juice products, more particularly those with full traceability and assurance in order to build the assurance of quality, health-giving products they can trust.  Clients don’t buy products and services, they buy this ‘trust’ and they demand ‘quality.’

    “I believe investment in science and technology will be important going forward to help us produce safe, high quality products and at low cost to make these health-giving products accessible to all.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Steve Hutchinson, Island Magic Pte. Fiji

    “During 2020 we have seen a big upturn in the cold pressed juicing space in the USA. Our current clients are all predicting 2021 to be a real growth year within this space. The beverage and juicing space is definitely our biggest sector right now with a couple of clients buying double the amount of organic turmeric that they were this time last year. “

    – – – – – – – –

    Steve Cockram, General Manager, Growers Co-op Grape Juice Co. USA

    “We have all have been forced into a very different world, and right now demand for juice is actually increasing.  Now that it seems that the food and transportation industries have been deemed to be essential, so we can stay open.  The big short term fear is the health of our employees.  One sickness and we may be shut down for a couple weeks.  Long term, we wonder how to do harvest if COVID is raging in our area.  Farmers will have the same issues as processors in getting healthy people to stay in operation.  The northern hemisphere wants to see how the southern hemisphere is dealing with it now.  That said our federal government is throwing forgivable loans to small businesses, so that will be a nice financial boost, if it comes to pass.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Carol Plisga, Independent Juice Consultant, USA

    “As an independent food and beverage consultant based in the US, I expect 2021 to be a gradual improvement for the juice industry.  Immunity will continue to be the driver for juice innovation.  However, I also believe consumers will be a bit more cost conscious until the economy shows sustained growth and employment levels get back to pre-pandemic levels.  Food service beverage will continue to be a struggle due to dining and travel restrictions.  I foresee Q1 and Q2 of 2021 to be a rising curve for the juice industry so that by Q3, we are surpassing benchmarks we had set prior to COVID.  We need to remain cautious but focused on new channels for growth.

    “The key word I have for juice producers is ‘Agile’ – to be agile is going to be key in 2021 and beyond, to be ready for whatever challenges we are faced with.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Nicole Loomis, Business Development Director, Juice Bar Outfitter, Jupiter FL, USA

    “I would love to talk about the juice industry and the pandemic. I think it is a bright light and source of hope in a year filled with sadness. While speaking with a supermarket chain early on in the pandemic, they told me nothing was off the table anymore. I think that summed up 2020 well, we had all been accustomed to our schedules, attending tradeshows, performing demonstrations, attending meetings, predicting trends and suddenly it had flipped.  As we are facing 2021 with many uncertainties we have a toolbox complete with lessons learned in 2020. I have witnessed our supermarkets, restaurants, and juice bars pivot and serve their customers well, meeting their demands, initiating online shopping, starting new cleaning requirements, training employees, and doing whatever they can to keep supplying fresh healthy food and keep employees and customers safe. Consumers made huge leaps moving to online shopping, and boosting immunity became a top priority.

    “Prior to the pandemic orange juice consumption was struggling a bit. We are based in Florida, the Sunshine State, and home to delicious juicing oranges and so we are happy to see orange juice is now back in the top position as an amazing source of Vitamin C. Fresh squeezed juice is the best way to take full advantage of the enzymes and the delicious taste made it a beverage in high demand that I see continuing into 2021.

    “I predict you will see a lot more demand for fresh juices. In Europe, some supermarkets are creating a juice wall or juice corner – dedicating a portion of the produce department with multiple Zumex Juicers ready to meet the demand of the consumers who want fresh-squeezed citrus juice. I think that trend will continue here in the US as more supermarkets bring back customers into the stores and welcome them with vibrant produce departments and fresh juice.

    “Another trend we saw last year that will surely continue is the growth of wellness shots, combining lemon juice, ginger juice and other fresh juices like pineapple for a quick vitamin rush.  Consumers are also looking to add in daily green juices and smoothies to increase their vitamins and minerals. They do not want any added sugar and our customers are responding by providing fresh juice on-demand with our Zumex Multifruit Juicer or Nutrifaster and Cold Pressed juice in bottles with the Zumex Mastery cold press juicer. We primarily sell commercial juicers but even our smaller tabletop commercial Santos citrus juicers have seen a jump in interest from home users looking to bring fresh citrus to their tables. The message is fresh is best.

    “I think there will be a continued demand for simple, authentic, and trusted drinks like orange juice as well as proven immunity boosting juices that also taste good. I think it is an opportunity to share information with the consumers about health benefits of the produce, working with the farms and produce suppliers to bring value to the consumers and show a strong commitment to helping them stay healthy. 2021 will be a year of rebuilding, I think a strong demand for fresh juice is definitely one trend that is here to stay. “

    “I am very grateful to work in the fresh juice industry because I get to be a part of bringing the tools to the supermarkets, farmer’s markets, hospitals, hotels and juice bars to transform farm-fresh produce into juices and smoothies that will help people stay healthy with strong immune systems. I see 2021 as a strong year for juice. 2021 will be a year to come together and lift each other up, fresh produce, fresh juice and healthy drinks will be a uniting bright light of hope and comfort. Together we will educate, and celebrate the resiliency of so many.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Maxim McDonald, Director, Gerald McDonald, UK

    “Regarding Yuzu Juice we don’t see any let-up in increasing demand for this Japanese citrus. Especially with the Tokyo Olympics (still scheduled) this July.

    “Regarding Brexit it’s too soon to say, aside from extra import/export paperwork and costs, we will need to compare what Britain achieves in trade deals outside the EU to what we had inside it, to see if it was all worth it.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Josep Lay, Managing Director of PT Great Giant Pineapple, Indonesia

    “From our record and observations, for pineapple juice concentrate, in our case overall 2020 delivery showed some improvement compared to previous year, especially during 2nd semester. A combination of reduced inventories at customers (bottler, blending), and notable supply dropped from Thailand (main producing country) and favourable consumption from retail segment could be among the reasons.

    “We also noticed the upturn on juice sales especially on retail segment as it indicates that during pandemic people learn and choose healthier food and drinks which are more beneficial to their health.

    “We also hope this pandemic will bring long-term awareness for the young generation in their choices over healthier food and drink, since we have been living with this pandemic for quite a long time, so their healthy choices will become their new habits.

    “Our concern for 2021 is how soon the food service sector will recover. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the foodservice sector has been badly hit due to various lock downs, implementation of health protocols & social distancing and restricted operating hours. The recent lockdowns in various countries across Europe and the new strain of COVID-19 virus which is more contagious might prolong this sector from recovering.

    “The rolled out plan of COVID-19 vaccination in many countries has certainly brought some hope and positive news for 2021. Although this might take months to implement, it already helped bringing more optimism into the market.  We hope the foodservice sector will start recovering steadily during 2021 and sales from retail sector will continue to show positive result therefore overall juice consumption in 2021 will be better than 2020.

    “Another challenge that many experienced toward the end of 2020 was the shortage in equipment (empty container) and vessel space, which made the freight cost to surge considerably. Reduced economic activities and implementation of health protocols due to COVID-19, which limit number of active workers, to some extend has slowed down the speed of cargo movement at ports.

    “Furthermore economic slowdown has caused many containers sitting at ports at much longer time than usual. Estimation from some shipping lines, this situation will remain until March/April 2021.

    “In regards with UK and the Brexit deal, we have been in discussion with our UK partners on the changes and so far we have not seen any major impact yet. We do hope that as the UK becomes more independent in their decisions over tariffs, quotas and other regulations, they will advocate more attractive terms for business, especially in fruit juice sector.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Kristof Blomme, Director, Granada Juice, Spain

    “I can give you my views a young start-up and small player in this field: our sales of pure pomegranate juice are going smoothly here in Southern Spain so far. People like the functional properties of pomegranate and believe benefits can be achieved as an immune-booster to prevent or to fight COVID-19. 2021 will more or less be the same as last year due to pandemic, I believe. However the future will be more positive, once we get back to pre-pandemic travel condition. Our region is very dependent on international tourism, for which Brexit will have indirectly some negative influence.”

    – – – – – – – –

    Stefan Reiß, Managing Director, Green Coco Europe GmbH, Germany

    “2020 was quite challenging in terms of supply chain interruptions for coconut water in quarter 2. This hit the market again even harder in quarter 4 and is still continuing. We expect a very challenging first half of 2021 due to limited crop, production and sea freight capacities.

    “Coconut water has not shown any unforeseen increase in sales due to Covid 19 in the EU. The business was has been stable like as always. We decided in quarter 3 to stop our UK business and to focus on the European continent due to the uncertainties and higher (logistic) costs evolved.”

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 12 Jan
    PET packaging latest

    PET packaging latest

    Multi-talented – solution providers for customers along the entire value chain

    Last year, Gropper celebrated its 90th anniversary. The company has grown considerably since its founding: the cheese maker is now a mid-sized enterprise producing private-label dairy products, not-from-concentrate (NFC) juices, smoothies, and bottled water for customers across Europe.

    In addition to milk, Gropper produces juice, smoothies, and bottled water. The company’s spirit of innovation is strong: “When it comes to product development, we are more like a brand manufacturer than a private-label supplier,” says Karl Klein, Managing Director Production and Technology at Gropper. “We don’t wait for our customers to come to us. We approach them proactively with new ideas.” As a result, Gropper has been successfully making organic products for supermarket chains since 2006.

    That same year, the company surprised its customers by suggesting they bring smoothies to the German market – long before many of the major brands. In 2009, Gropper began producing NFC juices in PET containers for grocery discounters. “Our latest coup is our own organic mineral water brand, rieser Urwasser. It has given our dairy a foot in the door to one of Germany’s biggest grocery discounters,” Klein says with an unmistakable touch of pride.

    Clear expectations

    Krones became familiar with Gropper’s untiring pursuit of innovation and willingness to take risks back in 2004, when the dairy decided to move into PET packaging. “PET containers make the product visible,” explains Karl Klein. “Bottles made of PET plastic are also very lightweight, fully re-sealable, and hygienically perfect.”

    The company had very specific ideas about how its first PET line should be equipped. They wanted to use a two-colour filler with dry-aseptic technology. “It’s the standard in the dairy industry. All of our cup fillers work on that principle. So it was clear that our PET containers and caps would also have to be sanitized in this way,” says Karl Klein.

    Since Krones didn’t have that type of filler in its portfolio at the time, the Neutraubling-based company delivered just a Contiform stretch blow-molder and a two-color sleeve labeler that was designed especially for Gropper.

    But Krones’ filling technology experts had taken the customer’s idea as inspiration and developed a four-colour filler that uses gaseous hydrogen peroxide to sterilize the containers and caps. And their efforts paid off. In 2005, when Gropper was considering its next investment in a PET line, the company chose this newly developed filler from Krones. “It was still just a prototype – so of course, there were some ups and downs,” recalls Burgmeier.

    “When we were looking to add yet another line in 2012, we weighed very carefully whether we should go with Krones again. In the end, though, we realized that Krones had continually improved its dry-aseptic process in the meantime – and so we did. Right now, nobody else on the market can build a dry-aseptic PET line at the same level of quality and reliability.”

    Championing dry aseptics

    Today, PET containers account for about 40% of Gropper’s total production volume. The success of PET packaging is also reflected in the dairy’s capital expenditure. In 2015, the company decided to significantly increase its capacity for producing in PET containers and launched a wave of investment. That same year, Gropper opened a second plant in Stockach, near Lake Constance, which was followed in 2018 by a plant in Moers as part of a joint venture with Dr. Oetker. Two PET lines from Krones are now in operation at each location. In addition, the Bissingen plant also got two new lines, in 2018 and 2019.

    Both lines once again feature a PET-Asept D system from Krones, each with a rated capacity of 18,000 1.0-litre containers per hour. This aseptic filler-capper block processes not only milk, dairy drinks, and whipping cream but also coffee beverages, NFC juices, smoothies, and water. The latest filler generation gives Gropper the utmost flexibility in container choice.

    On earlier models, changing bottle shape meant replacing handling parts. Today, all container types can be processed with a single set of handling parts. Because the clean room no longer has to be opened, cleaning times are also shorter – and the line’s performance has increased by around 25% compared with earlier models.

     

    With the PET-Asept D, Gropper has once again consciously chosen to keep the filler and the blow-molder separate. One reason is to clearly segregate packaging material storage from the hygienic space around the filler. Preforms and packaging materials are fed into the lines from a central location at the front end of the bottling hall – and for that reason, the Contifeed preform feed system, the Contiform 3 Pro stretch blow-molders, and the packer are all sited in this part of the hall. The filler stands at the opposite end of the hall. An AirCo air conveyor transfers the molded PET containers along the 60-meter (nearly 200-foot) stretch between the two areas. “The air conveyor also serves as a buffer. Especially when working with higher-viscosity products, we can run slow filling without impacting the thermal process in the blow molder,” explains Burgmeier. Klein chuckles, adding, “At Gropper, we’re obsessed with buffers because our experience has been that block set-ups often result in efficiency losses. We really notice that when one of our buffer towers goes down and has to be bypassed. Efficiency immediately drops by four or five percent.”

    Clear favorite for labelling

    As a private-label producer, Gropper makes countless different products and brands. In order to meet its customers’ demands, the company has to be able to offer all labeling options. Therefore, both of the new lines include a Solomodul, each of which has two docking stations for wrap-around, pre-cut, and lid labeling stations. The set-up can also accommodate integration of two Autocol labeling stations for self-adhesive labels if needed. If Gropper needs to handle special-shaped bottles on the new lines, a Sleevematic can do the labeling. “We change labels at least five or six times a day. We chose a modular labeler to keep time losses to a minimum,” says Burgmeier.

    Gropper has trusted Krones labeling technology ever since they installed their first PET line – and for good reason, as Karl Klein explains: “When it comes to labeling, we’ve never gone with anyone but Krones. Their roots are in labeling and I have the greatest trust in them.” To date, Gropper has also exclusively chosen Krones Contiform stretch blow-molders for bottle production.

    Direct access is a major advantage

    The collaboration on PET plastic packaging is just one more milestone in the two companies’ long partnership. “Krones has been a dependable partner to Gropper for more than 30 years. Even though the group has grown to be quite large, we know that we will always have a contact person there who can answer our questions and help solve any problems that arise,” says Burgmeier. Klein adds: “Since the majority of our products are chilled foods, we have to operate 24/7 filling specific orders. Line uptime is essential. Of course, you’ll have an occasional downtime or need a spare part at short notice. At those times, it’s important to have a supplier who will deliver service or spare parts quickly and dependably. Our close proximity to Krones’ headquarters is also a major advantage.”

    “Each time we come up with a new project, we have very specific ideas and expectations. Krones listens carefully, takes on our challenges, and does everything in their power to make our expectations reality.”

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 12 Jan
    US – Hesperidin to be tested against COVID-19

    US – Hesperidin to be tested against COVID-19

    The National Institutes of Health’s National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recently announced plans to evaluate the clinical efficacy of hesperidin against COVID-19. Orange juice and sweet oranges contain hesperidin. NCBI referred to hesperidin as “an old herbal medicine … used to treat vascular diseases in Europe and Australia and distributed with vitamin C as a dietary supplement in the USA.

    “Hesperidin is a promising drug candidate for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” NCBI continued. “Hesperidin interferes with viral entry through ACE2 receptors, improves the host cellular immunity, minimizes the release of inflammatory mediators and its mixture protects against venous thromboembolism.”

    NCBI stated that “Hesperidin is a common flavone glycoside found in citrus fruit such as lemons and sweet oranges. Hesperidin has several pharmacological activities such as anti-atherogenic, antihyperlipidemic, antidiabetic, venotonic, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive actions. The anti-inflammatory activity of hesperidin was mainly attributed to its antioxidant defence mechanism and suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokine production.”

    Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) Executive Director Shannon Shepp reacted to the planned study: “We are aware of the recent study related to hesperidin and COVID-19. The Florida Department of Citrus is not currently involved in or planning any research related to COVID-19 but continues to monitor developments on the topic. Current research shows that 100 percent orange juice provides a variety of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds, including hesperidin, that when consumed daily can help support a healthy immune system.

    “Recent clinical studies supported by FDOC continue to reinforce the broad potential benefits of plant compounds with antioxidant-like properties, like hesperidin and carotenoids, found in 100% orange juice. Further studies on hesperidin, which is highly concentrated in citrus and rarely found in other foods, are necessary to learn more about its role in the diet.” CitrusIndustry

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    EU – Lemon market feels the squeeze

    EU – Lemon market feels the squeeze

    Spanish lemon suppliers are facing a challenging market as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic tightens its grip on Europe. With much of the hospitality industry closed or operating under restrictions, sales through the wholesale channel continue to be severely disrupted.

    However, retail sales are holding up relatively well, albeit under considerable pressure on prices. José Antonio García of Ailimpo said supermarkets were being ‘excessively aggressive’ with regard to price. Markets are well supplied this season thanks to a 14 per cent increase in Spanish Fino production and good availability of competitively priced Turkish lemons due to the devalued Turkish lira. Producers remain hopeful, however, that demand will pick up in the coming weeks so that markets don’t become oversupplied.

    “The market is still profitable, just less profitable than in previous years,” García commented, “Growers without GlobalGAP and GRASP certification who have failed to adapt to this new landscape will have fewer and fewer options to sell their crop and eventually be forced out of the market.” His comments came as agricultural union Asaja-Murcia called for the government to intervene to help struggling producers. Secretary general Alfonso Gálvez Caravaca warned that many small producers and family businesses could disappear unless they received urgent financial assistance. FruitNet

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    Mexico – Edges out Brazil as chief supplier of orange juice to US

    Mexico – Edges out Brazil as chief supplier of orange juice to US

    Mexico has once again surpassed Brazil as the major supplier of orange juice to the United States.

    Although the dollar amount of orange juice shipped to the US between January and June is half as much as it was last year, Mexico exported USD142 million of juice in the first six months of 2020, considerably more than Brazil’s USD91 million.  Mexico exported USD333 million worth of juice last year, beating Brazil by USD3 million. A recent study by CitrusBR, an organization representing the three largest Brazilian exporters of orange juice, showed that sales from Mexico to the United States have skyrocketed since 2008, when US customs eliminated tariffs on imports of concentrated and frozen orange juice from Mexico as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    In contrast, US imports of orange juice from Brazil pay a tariff of USD 415.86 per tonne.

    In 1993, when the US tax on juice from all sources was still USD490.02, Brazil exported 144,500 tonnes of concentrated and frozen orange juice to the United States. That volume has dropped to just 71,100 tonnes in 2019. According to CitrusBR, Mexico’s exports of concentrated and frozen orange juice went from 9,800 to 74,700 tonnes in the same period.

    “With a good quality product, similar to that produced in Florida, and land freight around 50% cheaper than Brazilian maritime logistics, the Mexican product continues to gain [ground],” Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported in reference to the CitrusBR study.

    The United States Department of Agriculture forecasts that Mexico’s exports for the 2019-2020 season will total 104,850 tonnes, as drought has decimated the orange production affecting the supplies available for processing. The vast majority of concentrated and frozen orange juice production in Mexico is destined for export to the United States. There is some small trade with Europe, depending on prices. Likewise, Mexico imports a small amount of orange juice for supermarkets or small processors that have their own juice brands. Mexico has 342,885 hectares of orange orchards, 55% of which are located in Veracruz. Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo and Sonora also produce oranges. This year the heat and drought are expected to drop Mexico’s orange production per hectare by 34%. Most of Mexico’s orange trees are older, and therefore harder hit by the drought than other fruits. El Economista 

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    Australia – Juice industry in damage control after health star rating changed to rank lower than diet cola

    Australia – Juice industry in damage control after health star rating changed to rank lower than diet cola

    Fruit growers and processors say they are crushed by a decision to cut the health star rating (HSR) for 100% no-added-sugar juices from five stars to as low as two stars. The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, a group made up of state and territory ministers, met to consider its response to recommendations as part of the five-year HSR review.

    A communique from the forum released days after the event, indicated that a decision would be made on ratings for 100% and vegetable juices in February 2021. The Federal Government’s aim in developing the ratings is to give shoppers an easy way to identify better choices of packaged and processed foods, something Agriculture Minister David Littleproud asserts is undermined by the recommendation.

    “What I don’t accept is the insanity of this decision, which really has no basis on nutritional value — it really just is mind-numbingly dumb,” he said.

    Last chance to improve the HSR

    Food is rated from half-a-star to five stars depending on how its healthy and risk nutrients compare but the system has come in for criticism. The forum’s July 2020 communique revealed Mr Littleproud’s initial push — to see 100% fresh fruit and vegetable juice with no added sugar receive an automatic HSR score of five stars — was not supported and the review recommendations were maintained. Citrus Australia chief executive Nathan Hancock said he was disappointed with the decision.”It sends a really poor message to our consumers, who, let’s face it, need to have more fruit and vegetables,” he said. “Being told that diet soda is better for them than a juice product, we think, is confusing. Because diet soft drinks have artificial sugars, it elevates them above juices which have natural sugars.” ABC.net.au

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 Jan
    US – Florida  citrus production down, but Coronavirus Pandemic drives demand –

    US – Florida  citrus production down, but Coronavirus Pandemic drives demand –

    The increased demand is attributed to people working from home, and the thought a compound found in oranges can fend off coronavirus. Production of Florida oranges is now forecast to be about 17% below last season’s output, while the industry has seen a surge in demand linked to people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic and rediscovering breakfast.

    An updated forecast from the US Department of Agriculture (mid December) reduced by about 2% the current growing season forecast for production of oranges and grapefruit, which were already projected to be below the yield from the 2019-2020 growing season. The Florida Department of Citrus considered the revised forecast a sign the industry is ‘relatively stable.’

    After the first forecast for the season was released back in October, the Florida Citrus Commission voted to increase a tax that growers pay on each box of oranges to help cover a USD9.8 million global marketing campaign. That campaign is part of an effort to keep up a surge in juice sales spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The change increased the box tax growers pay from 7 cents for each 90-pound box of oranges they fill to 12 cents per box. Grapefruit and specialty fruits remained at 7 cents a box.

    The work-from-home trend, along with a belief from many people that a compound found in oranges called hesperidin provides a layer of protection from respiratory illnesses, has driven orange juice to supermarket sales unseen in years. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried commented: “With citrus as a powerful source of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and fibre, Florida’s citrus growers are working hard to fulfil market demand for oranges, grapefruit, and specialty citrus. With these projections in line with an expected smaller 2020-21 citrus crop, we at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stand ready to support our proud citrus growers with research, innovation, and partnership.”

    About 95% of Florida’s orange crop, still the largest in the nation, is processed into juice. If projections hold, orange production would decline for a second straight year in an industry that has struggled against residential and commercial development, foreign imports and citrus greening, an incurable bacterial disease. The updated federal forecast has growers in Florida producing enough oranges to fill 56 million 90-pound boxes, down from 57 million boxes projected in the October forecast, which opened the growing season. The season continues into July. Just over two decades ago, Florida growers grew enough oranges for more than 200 million boxes a season. The industry uses 90-pound boxes as a standard measurement. Wusfnews

    By Caroline Calder News