• 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
  • 11 Nov
    Powerful flavour trends

    Powerful flavour trends

    Functional flavours

    There is a vast array of incredible flavours out there, but shifting through the possibilities can feel like a minefield. Here, leading global ingredients manufacturer Treatt, explores the different trends in a COVID climate, and how juice producers can use flavours to find their niche in a changing world.

    The power of trends

    Working in the flavour industry is a craft that requires us to be a master of many trades. From botanical science and biochemistry, to supply chain management and understanding consumer behaviour, success in the sector requires the right team and the right investment, to ensure we can meet customer demand.

    Some are surprised to learn that the industry as a whole invests around 10% of its turnover into research and development (R&D). It’s a worthwhile endeavour – as a business we need to be agile, and brimming with constant creativity and innovation. Our customers trust us to be able to help them tap into the zeitgeist with flavours that deliver and will help their NPD fly.

    Critical as it is, taste cannot be relied on alone to achieve success. Trends can dictate any number of product credentials. Sustainability, for example, is no longer an optional nice-to-have. A study of 20,000 consumers in five countries revealed that one in three purchase products with sustainability in mind. We anticipate this trend will continue increasing at an unprecedented pace.

    Changing consumer demands around the world

    Inevitably, the effect of COVID-19 will leave its mark. Health and wellness was already extremely high on consumer agenda and the pandemic has fuelled further growth.

    Consumers are seeking comfort and familiarity from products and this has seen a resurgence in demand for traditional beverages. Health conscious consumers continue to seek out products with perceived health benefits such as immunity boosting, and the increased demand for citrus juices is one such example of the direct effect of this.

    As consumers wise-up to the health effects and sustainability of the products they are consuming, the breadth of products and variations of flavourings becomes ever wider. This is an extremely fast-changing process, with a need to not only keep up with the trends, but also be ahead of the next big thing. Beverages battling juices for space on shelf include nitro beverages and seltzers, which can fulfil many consumer needs.


    A tricky market, where consumers are forgoing juice for flavoured waters and iced coffees. Health is absolutely critical and consumers are seeking clean label beverages with natural flavourings from fruits, vegetables and herbs. Pear, lychee and lemon are the fastest growing flavours in this region.

    Functional energy drinks in the US are expecting sales to reach USD32 billion by 2025 – accounting for nearly 40% of the US market. Caffeinated fruit juice is a key trend within this that we can expect to see growing over the course of the next few years, with drinks providing not only functional health benefits but also the wake-up kick from the caffeination.


    Since the UK introduced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy – a tax on high sugar soft drinks – there has been an inevitable rise in the sugar-free or low-sugar beverage offerings from brands in the UK, putting pressure on naturally sugary juices, currently exempt from the legislation. This legal push marries with consumer demand for healthier beverages.

    Juices can overcome these challenges by providing functional beverages which answer other needs with perceived benefits, such as immune system boosting through antioxidants or ingredients which could aid stress relief.

    Caramel, melon and grape are the three big growing flavours in this market. Other key consumer drivers in this territory are good sustainability credentials and a rise in demand for vegan products.


    2020 has seen a growing number of functional lines being introduced to the European market. The functional beverage market in Europe is projected to see a 6.5% growth between 2020 and 2025, a trend which has only been strengthened by the pandemic. As consumers are making more health-conscious decisions, and companies are taking measures to adapt their products to demand, this category is set to grow.

    In the near future for Europe, we will see an increase in the consumption of natural flavours, allowing nutrient-dense ingredients to dominate the European market.

    Keep an eye out for sugar cane, blue curacao and citron, which are leading the pack as Europe’s fastest growing flavours.


    Historically a strong region for the juice market, the emerging ‘middle-class’ have recently been consuming more on-the-go RTD beverages, with coffee and energy drinks increasingly popular, as consumers seek a caffeine buzz to keep up with their busy lives. The fastest growing flavours in APAC are bubble gum, cactus and yuzu.


    COVID has seen businesses adapt to new working practices, including enforcing social distancing and working with reduced labour forces. Growers and processors are navigating similarly dramatic shifts in the fresh fruit markets. Many ports have been closed and ships unable to dock, heavily impacting the global supply chain.

    We have steadied our ship thanks to the strong relationships with our suppliers, and ensured an unwavering continuity of supply chain.

    With the shut-down of the food service sector, we’ve seen more fresh lemon fruit become available for processing. Demand in ginger has spiked as consumers seek ways to improve general health. Our High Impact Chemicals (HICs) continue to play an important role in meeting demand for products designed to be free from ingredients people can be allergic or intolerant to. New HICs hitting the market are providing creative flavours that provide an authentic taste profile. Our 5-Methyl-2-thiophenecarboxaldehyde provides sweet, almond, nutty, cherry and bready notes at 5ppm in formulations.

    While the pace of change can be daunting, there remains ample opportunities for fruit juice brands willing to create products which hit that consumer sweet spot.

    Visit Treatt.com to find out how we can help.



    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 11 Nov
    Trade opportunities in juice

    Trade opportunities in juice

    When opportunity knocks . . .

    A UK Essex-based drink supplier that was founded over a century ago has secured a deal to sell its organic fruit juices to Japanese businesses through to April 2021. This latest Japanese deal was secured after the Department for International Trade (DIT) assisted the company to attend trade shows and meetings in Japan, where it met new customers.

    In 2016, Gerald McDonald opened an office in Kobe and DIT is currently providing advice on trademark registration in the country. Marketing Director at Gerald McDonald, Maxim McDonald said We are proud to be a British family business and to keep the legacy of my great-grandfather going. Japan has been our biggest exporting step; it is an exciting market and our future focus. It is going to be big for our business and we are in the process of developing our website for future online sales in Japan.”

    UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss commented: “The trade deal we signed with Japan was a historic moment and will offer tariff-free trade on 99% of UK exports to Japan, creating new opportunities for people in the East of England and helping level up the whole country.

    Gerald McDonald was originally founded by spice trader Gerald McDonald in 1917, its main customers were in the UK, back when spices were still very exotic products for the British consumer. Following the Second World War, the company was granted a government licence for the importation of bulk fruit juices, as there was a huge government drive to get children consuming more minerals and vitamins which they were lacking. This is how we started in juices and concentrates.

    A major milestone came in 2000, comments Maxim, moving from London to Basildon, in order to set up their own warehouse and blending facilities. “We realised we could not stay competitive as just a trading company in the City.”

    Roll on to today and the self-named business is now managed by his grandson Gerald and great-grandson Maxim. From its headquarters in Basildon, UK, the juices are exported to over 20 countries, with international sales accounting for 20% of Gerald McDonald’s £27 million average turnover. Gerald McDonald also exports its popular Japanese Yuzu juice outside of Japan and creates bespoke juice mixes at its headquartered blending facility.

    So how did the Japanese contract come about, we asked Maxim McDonald?

    “The DIT supported us in Japan with travel and tradeshow funding. In Japan it is crucial to be present and active in the market in order to gain respect, so this was a huge help for us.

    Japan has always been a fascinating country to me, so different yet so similar in certain ways. For food and drink it’s one of the most exciting countries in the world with a strong national cuisine but also with a great appreciation of other food cultures. Japanese consumers are incredibly adventurous which leads to a very exciting drink market…where else would you find a pancake flavour drink?!”

    What have been the biggest challenges of late?

    “No doubt Covid-19 has been problematic due to the uncertainty, but also Brexit in terms of stockpiling. We hope for a deal with the EU, but now we have measures in place to ensure that exports/imports will continue running smoothly whatever the outcome.

    “Despite the pandemic, the organic market is growing again, and we have strong connections to organic citrus growers which places us in a good position to offer ingredients to food and drink manufacturers.

    “We have a large portfolio of fruit concentrates, NFCs, purees and essential oils that we hold in stock. We have no MOQs and so are very flexible with volumes. At our onsite blending facility we make compounds, aseptic products and repack into small or large units.

    “Covid has affected everyone in food and drink as customers eating and drinking habits have markedly changed and we have to try and adapt to this. We obviously have to keep production going while also maintaining a safe environment for our workers, but staff who can, do work from home. Fortunately, all our processes have been coping and working fine.”

    “I believe the more free trade agreements countries can have, the better, easier and more competitive business will be, which in the end should benefit customers. We want to excel at customer service and be as flexible as possible – our customers have enough to worry about selling their own products.”

    What product developments are you most proud of?

    “Not all NPD leads to success as its very trial and error, but we have created some very interesting and great tasting blends for customers, and it is always very satisfying after spending a long time with a client creating and working on a new drink to see it come to fruition. “

    Tell us about Yuzu juice and what makes it special

    “It is a Japanese citrus with a very interesting and complex taste- like a cross between a lemon, mandarin and grapefruit. The juice we offer retains 100% of the essential oil which gives it a really powerful depth. It’s a very important product for the company as we look at new markets.”

    So what next for the company?

    “We are looking for partners and agents we can work with in other regions such as the Middle East, Africa and Asia where we know we have something to offer. If you’re interested in working with us, do get in touch.”

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 11 Nov
    Sustainable juice production in Guatemala

    Sustainable juice production in Guatemala


    Popoyán Modern Agriculture Model: A Proven Sustainable Approach for Creating Prosperity for Rural Communities in Guatemala 

    Popoyán´s theory of change is centered round developing high productivity and resilient projects, which integrate the agricultural value chain under a cluster solutions model. With it, Popoyán connects our high-performance production model to high-value markets generating prosperity for all those participating in the value chain. These projects have been a means for positive impact towards the stability of the regional food supply, while also generating sustainable employment and prosperity for the surrounding communities with which good relations have been sustained since the beginning of operations. Within Popoyán’s theory of change, agroindustry plays a key role to scale up production and accelerate shared value implementation.

    Popoyán has different business units that provide solutions for every step of the agricultural process – nursery, ag-inputs distribution, biological solutions that act as an alternative way to manage plant pests and diseases, commercialization of fruits and vegetables, centers for research and technology transfer, production farms, processing plants for fruit juice and purée. Our shared value accelerator projects represent our efforts to accelerate the achievement of our long-term goals to create value for the organization, its workers, and the smallholder farmers and the communities who are our partners. Through our model, we can reach prosperity in communities within an average of three to four years what otherwise could be accomplished in ten years.

    This shared value business model is private-led and integrates social-economic results as part of the core business at par with financial, operational, and market goals. It is divided into two pillars; the first one in our farms, where we produce MD2-pineapple, papaya, avocado, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a variety of berries for the international and local fresh markets. Farms integrate solutions to social needs through new business using technical expertise, knowledge, and a culture of innovation.

    Popoyan works with employees and their families to improve health and education and implement sustainable operations wherever we work with more than 7,000 people directly benefitting. Our collaborators’ growth is fundamental to shared success and our programs cooperate with our workers to build adequate housing, earn educational degrees, allow access to preventive healthcare and other services.

    Part of the long-term strategy to increase the development effect towards more people in Guatemalan communities surrounding our farms is to increase the scalability of our operations to generate more employment and a more sustainable impact. Agricultural industrialization was the approach that Popoyán took to achieve growth in the production area, and through its Tukan Foods business unit has invested in a processing plant for MD2 pineapple, papaya, mango, and passion fruit, in organic and baby food qualities to access high-value markets around the world.

    The second pillar is being implemented in the most vulnerable communities of Guatemala, where most of the smallholder farmers are located. Smallholder farmers represent an important market segment for the ag-input distribution business unit of Popoyán, and our Shared Value strategy invests in the development of the smallholder farmers to increase their yields and improve the quality of the different fresh produce that is sold in markets increasing their value. Popoyán is replicating its lessons learned from the first pillar scaling them to be applicable by the smallholder farmer of Guatemala.

    With private funds alone, our approach can reach a limited number of people in time, however, by partnering with different foreign cooperation counterparts to create public-private partnerships we can scale-up and accelerate our shared value. In the last seven years, we have been able to expand our reach to more than 50,000 people and their families benefiting directly. Our public-private partnerships have been a first of its kind and aim to reduce poverty and chronic malnutrition in Guatemala through an innovative and validated approach using economic corridors that strategically align market opportunities with existing and potential production, logistic routes, climates, altitudes, micro, and macro watersheds and address the vulnerability of chronic malnutrition.

    Popoyán has invested in four Centers for Rural Technological Development, that strategically connect economic corridors and serve as technology transfer centers for different agriculture technologies. These centers will also serve as collection centers for consolidating produce delivered from vulnerable areas and will include processing facilities for different crops that have demand in the juicing industry, to reach the desired impact in rural communities.

    Prosperous communities include not only people’s well-being but also the conservation of the surrounding natural reserves and wildlife. Our integral approach towards rural development takes into consideration the preservation of the environment as a transversal axis among all of our projects. In both implementation strategies of our shared value, we use environmentally friendly production methods, conservation of unexploited jungle and wildlife, watershed management, and efficient and sustainable use of resources. This involves not only the physical work being done but also encouraging behavior change among the inhabitants of the communities using continuous education and knowledge transfer to move towards a more sustainable country. Popoyán dedicates 50% of its territory as a natural reserve, crop management technology has allowed to increase production yields, to produce more in the same amount of land available.

    Agricultural industrialization, specifically for juice, pulp, and purée processes has allowed Popoyán to access and diversify to markets around the world. This was the next logical step that Popoyán needed to take as a company to scale up production and create more employment. Popoyán´s agroindustry, combined with the fresh produce production operations made it possible to increase positive impact in the most needed areas of Guatemala.


    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 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
    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.


    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
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