Features

  • 20 Mar
    Ultra-tropicals: Emerging exotic fruits

    Ultra-tropicals: Emerging exotic fruits

    Dragon Fruit shutterstock_106417019By Kristen Farr, Innovation & Marketing Manager, iTi tropicals, USA

    While orange, apple and grape juices have solidified their role in the juice marketplace, there are new flavours emerging looking to steal the spotlight. Exotic fruits like acerola, dragon fruit and mangosteen are powerful fruits that blend well with other juices and add new and exciting flavour profiles. Their colours and flavours are far from ordinary. Many consumers are traveling more and being exposed to flavours, fruits and cuisines that are not part of their normal repertoire. With this increased wanderlust, pallets are expanding. Consumers are seeking out the exotic fruits and flavours tasted on their travels.

    Dragon fruit, mangosteen and acerola, all have unique properties that make them excellent partners to juices ready for a facelift. Take for example juices like mango, guava and passionfruit, they have secured places in the juice marketplace both as standalone flavours as well as blends. Over the years, many fruits have crossed the barrier from exotic unknown to available to all of us. Now dragon fruit, mangosteen and acerola are new flavours ready to make the leap.

     

    Unique profile

     

    Let’s take a closer look at each of these exotic fruits. First up; acerola, a small, deep-red, cherry-like fruit native to the West Indies, Brazil, and the Caribbean Islands. Also known as the Barbados cherry or West-Indian cherry, acerola is one of the most vitamin-rich fruits. It is a potent source of natural vitamin C and bio-flavonoids, as well as vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, B3, iron, phosphorous, and calcium. Its pulp has a distinctive fruity and sweet flavour described as a cross between a tart lime and a berry.

    Acerola juice can be used in many products and can be consumed as a straight juice but is often paired with others. The tartness of acerola blends well with other juices such as banana, papaya, mango and coconut water. It is more recently being used as a natural source of Vitamin C replacing ascorbic acid in ‘clean label’ products.

     

    <INSERT ACEROLA IMAGE NEAR HERE>

     

    Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or strawberry pear, is the probably the most beautiful and strange looking fruit in the cactus family and is growing in popularity. Dragon fruit is cultivated in the subtropical and tropical regions of Central Mexico, Central America, South America and Southeast Asia. Upon maturity, dragon fruit reaches its optimal sweetness. The fruit has a hot pink or reddish skin with greenish scales and the edible inner flesh is white, pink or red with numerous small black seeds. The dragon fruit is most commonly known for its natural deep red-crimson colour and slightly sweet taste often compared to that of a kiwi or pear. The texture and flesh is certainly comparable to a kiwi however its subtle flavour and refreshing juiciness are closer to a melon.

    What intrigues consumers is its visual appeal from the beautiful pink colour. When used in fruit juices the seeds are typically removed and a pink juice is left to blend. Dragon fruit is very appealing to consumers due to its exotic nature and vibrant colour. It tastes and looks great in tropical drinks, smoothies and cocktails. Dragon Fruit blends well with most fruits including banana, guava, coconut cream, pineapple, papaya and mango. It brings an exotic feel and colour to a product without overpowering the palette.

     

    <INSERT DRAGON FRUIT IMAGE NEAR HERE>

     

    Queen of fruits

     

    Another exotic fruit of note is the mangosteen, also known as ‘the Queen of Fruits.’ The mangosteen’s exterior is round, dark-purple/red-purple and smooth. Inside, there are 4-8 triangular segments of white, juicy, soft flesh that may or may not contain seeds. It is said to have numerous health benefits and tastes somewhere between a sweet orange and a peach. The mangosteen has a slightly acidic flavour, but is also both luscious and delicious at the same time.

    It grows mainly in Southeast Asia, south-west India and small pockets of other tropical areas in regions such as Puerto Rico and Florida, where the tree has been introduced. Mangosteen’s delicate flavour brings a taste of the tropics to any product. It blends well with other juices including peach, passionfruit and coconut water and is also gaining popularity as a delicacy and a fine, exotic dessert ingredient. It can be incorporated into juice blends, nectars, blends, smoothies and cocktails.

    The processing of dragon fruit and mangosteen are relatively straightforward. The fresh fruit is received into the plant and undergoes quality inspections prior to washing. The tops or crown are then cut off and the fruits are washed again before removing the exterior skin and peel. Next up in the process is pulp extraction where all of the flesh is collected in tanks to await further processing. Most fruit will go through an evaporator, screener to remove the seeds in the case of dragon fruit, and then the pasteurization process begins. Along the way are several quality checks to ensure the products is both safe and consistent. The fruit juice is then flash frozen and stored until it is ready to be shipped.

     

    Juice innovation

     

    In US juice markets these three exotic fruits are starting to make an impact. They are blended with better known juices and used in super fruit blends for their antioxidant properties and/or vibrant colour. In other areas of the world such as Brazil, acerola is an established juice and is just as common as orange is in the US.

    In order to stand out in an increasingly crowded category, juice manufacturers must look to innovate with new juices and this is where exotic fruits come into play. Less familiar fruits can also boost the nutritional profile of juices by adding the functional benefits consumers are seeking. As health, nutrition and clean label remain key drivers in guiding innovation within the beverage industry, consumers are looking for functional beverages that deliver benefits such as immune health, vitamin support and the promotion of overall well-being. Better-for-you functional beverages that deliver health benefits are impacting the use of both traditional and exotic fruits. Cold-pressed juices and high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) technologies have helped to drive tropical fruit flavours by maintaining the bright colours.

    Within the food and beverage industry, and especially in the beverage segment, exotic fruits still make up a sizeable portion of new product development and launches – and it is only increasing. This should come as no surprise considering the consistent growth in popularity of tropical fruits. For many beverage manufacturers, line extensions provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with unique fruits and flavours, leading to increased consumer familiarity and, consequently, increased consumer demand. There are several factors that contribute to the trend of exotic fruits, but overall it is the consumer’s desire for health and innovation that has pushed manufacturers to think outside the box, beyond apple, orange and grape.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 20 Mar
    Seatrade introduces a juice dedicated ship

    Seatrade introduces a juice dedicated ship

    Figure 1 Juice Express - General 3D design visualizationA highly specialized juice tanker is close to completion and will shortly enter service. The newly developed Juice Express has just been delivered (12 March 2018) to Seatrade and Tampa Juice Inc.

    The concept for this juice tanker project started in September 2013 after a thorough investigation into continuation of the juice trade between Moin (Costa Rica) and Tampa (USA).

    Currently, this trade route is serviced by the Joint Frost, a juice tanker with a capacity of more than 1300 tonnes of frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ). Since 1999, the Joint Frost has been technically operated by Seatrade and commercially operated by chartering partners.

    The Juice Express project was developed to expand the juice transport capacity beyond the Joint Frost, due to predictions of both the volume and variety of juice cargo changing in the future. This prompted Seatrade to work on detailed specification throughout 2014, which resulted in the tendering package for the yard.

    Seatrade’s broad experience with juice transport over the past 20 years has been used in the development of Juice Express design in close cooperation with chartering partners and a Dutch design and engineering company. With the Seatrade Newbuilding Department in charge, the team developed a new juice tanker concept with some ambitious targets.

    Juice Express would have to accommodate more than twice as much cargo as the Joint Frost using the same main engine fuel consumption and service speed. This impressive goal was achieved during the hull and propeller design stage. This process also included hull optimization for the specific trade between Costa Rica and the US. The vessel can easily be adjusted for other trade routes as well.

    In 2015, Seatrade engaged in extensive shipyard market research. Halfway through the year, Guangxin Shipbuilding & Heavy Industry (GSHI) located in the Guangdong province in South China, was contracted for the building of the Juice Express. Besides the Juice Express, Seatrade entered into an agreement with the same yard to build four handy size reefer vessels of 300 000 ft3. These vessels are particularly designed for transhipment and transportation of frozen fish, squid and, alternatively, shipment of cooled citrus fruits and potatoes. The end result of both projects brought in some excellent additions to the Seatrade fleet.

    Juice Express

    The Newbuilding Department of Seatrade Groningen joined forces with Seatrade’s Chartering, Technical and Operation Departments, to arrive at the most optimal ship design result. On top of that, sea going staff were invited to give practical input for the development process.

    The controllable pitch propeller has an optimum diameter, in combination with optimized hull lines, ensuring the best possible efficiency and lowest possible fuel consumption. The Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) is 23% more efficient compared with IMO requirements for phase 1. For optimum manoeuvring, a balanced spade rudder has been installed, operated by a ram-type steering gear and a tunnel type bow thruster installed in the forward part of the vessel. On the flush self-sustained main deck area of 900m2, a container crane operates that is able to lift 40 tonnes at a radius of 30m suitable for containerized cargoes, general cargo and project cargo. The latest generation of water ballast treatment systems comply with IMO and USCG regulations.

    Juice system

    The orange juice is mainly shipped as FCOJ, although in recent years, there has been an increase in the demand for not-from-concentrate (NFC) juice. In order to be flexible, the juice system has been designed to load/unload and transport FCOJ and NFC juice in cylindrical stainless steel (type 316ltr) juice tanks. The vessel has four cargo holds. Cargo holds number one, two and four are insulated and fitted with cylindrical juice tanks. Hold number three is a box shaped reefer cargo hold intended for reefer containers with juice bins or other reefer cargo. Additionally, this cargo hold provides for future options for juice system expansion. Hold number three could be insulated and four additional cylindrical tanks could be located inside. This modification depends on juice market developments. From a technical perspective, Seatrade gained ample experience during an earlier Joint Frost modification project.

    In addition, cargo holds number one and two are divided by insulated bulkheads to be able to create different temperature zones and provide further juice loading flexibility. Cargo hold number one accommodates one tank dedicated to Frozen Concentrated Pineapple Juice (FCPJ), FCOJ or NFC and three tanks have been appropriated for FCOJ or NFC. Cargo hold number two accommodates four tanks for FCOJ and/or NFC and cargo hold number four accommodates four tanks suitable for NFC only.

    Juice tank capacities

    The system has been designed with following parameters:

    • Total maximum juice tank volume – 2386 m3
    • Total maximum juice tank carrying capacity (maximum weight of the cargo) – 2958 tonnes

    Juice pumps

    The vessel has been designed with a theoretical port time (during loading or unloading) of below 24 hours. This includes manoeuvring and mooring operations. However, sufficient manifold connections have to be provided by the juice terminal. Pump rates of FCOJ, FCPJ and NFC are as follows:

    • Pump capacity NFC of 81 m3 per hour
    • Pump capacity FCOJ of 56 m3 per hour
    • Pump capacity FCPJ of 56 m3 per hour

    In total three NFC pumps, four FCOJ pumps and one FCPJ have been installed in the cargo holds and the loading manifold has the possibility for five juice segregations.

    Inert gas installation

    The nitrogen system has been installed on board to prevent oxidation of juice cargo. Nitrogen produced on board, or alternatively delivered from the shore, is used to inert all twelve juice tanks. A separate connection is provided in the manifold for supply and discharge of nitrogen from ashore. The on board installed nitrogen generator has a maximum capacity of 250 m3 per hour and 99% purity.

    Cargo tanks cleaning installation

    A central ‘Cleaning-In-Place’ (CIP) system is available on board for cleaning and disinfection of the juice tanks and the process systems in the cargo holds. The CIP stainless steel tanks required for cleaning operations are located in forward part of the vessel.

    Cargo cooling system

    A brine cooling system consisting of two units has been installed with ammonia as primary refrigerant. The cooled brine is transported through the pipes in vessel’s sides to feed the coolers in each temperature zone of the juice cargo holds. In total, there are five different temperature zones. The holds have been sufficiently insulated to keep the consumption of the refrigeration plant as low as practical. The maintained temperature in the holds with the stainless steel tanks can be set between minus 10°C and plus 2°C, depending on juice temperature settings.

    Reefer containers

    Fifteen reefer containers with the possible addition of juice bins, will be carried inside the cargo hold number three. Moreover, the vessel is prepared for the loading of additional reefer containers on the main deck. There are 58 reefer sockets on the main deck allowing for flexible loading operations, which can be performed by the vessel’s own container crane located on starboard side.

    Newbuilding stage

    All systems, including the juice system itself, need to be in full operating condition before vessel delivery. However, the juice system can only be fully commissioned during the first loaded voyage. With this in mind, experts from the juice system manufacturer, together with the Seatrade Newbuilding Team and the crew of Juice Express, will be testing and commissioning the system in the second quarter of 2018. After that, the vessel will be fully commissioned and ready for juice transport operations under SeacatLine.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 18 Jan
    A STAR IS BORN. LEMON JUICE GETS THE RED-CARPET TREATMENT

    A STAR IS BORN. LEMON JUICE GETS THE RED-CARPET TREATMENT

    Lemon juice is replacing citric acid as an acidifier in more and more products and it is moving to the top of the ingredients list and featuring more and more on the front label. It is being used as an acidifier in juice blended drinks where lemon juice concentrate is being used for tartness and other products that go from yoghurt to a very wide range of products. In non-alcoholic beverages lemon is considered to add the refreshing character to herbal, vegetable and fruit beverages and stands third behind orange and apple in the table of strongest flavours in non- alcoholic beverage product launches last year.

    In terms of world lemon juice supply for the period 2016/17 Argentina is way ahead at 61% leaving the nearest country, Spain, trailing at just 15%. With 75% of Argentina’s fruit harvest going to industrial use compared with only 35% across the other main sources of supply. Small fresh fruit exporters are losing ground and share to the big producers. Predictions are that demand for lemon juice will continue to grow and diversify into new usages and that new trends and changing consumer habits call for higher standards of fruit production and juice processing. Only processors that can meet these new standards will be capable of supplying lemon juice for the front label.

    Following his presentation at the Juice Summit on trends in the lemon juice industry, Fruit Juice Focus caught up with Santiago Martinez Founder of U-Citrus, a Uruguayan based sales and logistics structure for world-wide supply of fruit juices to talk in depth about how new customers are using lemon juice in a number of different ways.

    FullSizeRender[1] Santiago Martinez pic

    Fruit Juice Focus (FJF): Can you tell us about the changes in the ingredients list for fruit juices and how lemon juice has become a prime ingredient in recent years?

    Santiago Martinez (SM) There are three key changes and I will outline them here.

    Unlike other juices – particularly the main juices such as orange or apple, lemon has always been treated as a minor ingredient and not a fruit juice in its own right, except obviously for salad dressings.

    What we are seeing now on the demand side are changes within the ingredient list. Firstly, lemon as an ingredient has gone from practically non-existent to existent. Historically citric acid has been widely used as an acidifier in fruit juices and other products. This is not necessarily the case anymore. If you are launching a beverage product nowadays that claims to be natural you should not use citric acid as an ingredient. You need to use a fruit juice, and this is where we see the rise in popularity for lemon juice as a replacement for citric acid.

    With the huge rise in new product launches worldwide in recent years (see fig 1) claiming freshness and sustainability as a major selling point (reportedly 20% year on year for the past five years) a major opportunity has arisen for lemon juice to become the ingredient of choice to help these products fulfil these claims.

    The second key change is where lemon appears in the ingredients list for a functional purpose. Many of the new super fruit juices and super veggies are looking for ingredients that will provide the freshness that consumers desire. And lemon is the answer. You only need to look at the explosion of new launches in the beverages market and you will find that lemon is not only being used as an acidifier in these products but also increasingly to add that touch of freshness.

    And thirdly is the launch of the new lemonades (see fig 2). This is fantastic news for lemon because the enormous difference now is that the new lemonades are using upwards of 10% to 14% lemon juice content where normally you would have seen as low as 1 or ½ % in a typical multifruit nectar. Each glass of lemonade that replaces a glass of nectar in the consumer’s share of stomach represents a 10 or 20-fold increase in lemon juice consumption.

    Let’s take the Hollywood analogy and you can see how lemon juice has risen from a bit part player to a star role in the ingredients list. When you watch the credits roll at the end of the movie in the cinema there is a long list of names that nobody cares about scrolling up the screen. Lemon in the ingredients list has many times been the equivalent to “safety guard #3”. But now lemon can be seen in the opening credits as one of the stars or main characters of the production. That’s how much things have changed for lemon over the past few years.

    Why – because lemon is fresh.

    It is lemon juice plus watermelon, lemon juice plus herbs, lemon juice plus strawberry. All the other juices or ingredients are now no longer the main character. The main character is now lemon.

    And another interesting development, and I refer to my Hollywood analogy again, when lemon is the lead character, the star of the ingredients appears on the front label – this movie star needs to go to the hairdressers, to be well dressed for the red carpet. This means that the quality of the lemon juice at this level needs to be the best, whereas when lemon juice was just an acidifier at the end of an ingredient list of 10 fruits nobody really cared about the freshness or the colour of this lemon.

    The changes I see are: firstly, the replacement of citric acid.  Secondly lemon as a character of freshness in this new range of beverage launches. And thirdly, lemon as the main fruit. All this means we will have to focus much closer in the quality of the lemons we produce and supply. Another point to consider when talking about quality is AR’s. When lemon is not a tiny ingredient anymore, a whole new level of quality parameters need to be reached.

    FJF: This is a whole new set of rules and regulations then, being introduced for the lemon industry along with associated costs?

    SM: Yes, but basically those are being already matched by the main suppliers from the main countries of origin. At the same time, some origins will not be able to reach the new quality requirements that will become the new world standard.

    FJF: Lemon juice is obviously a good business to be in currently. You source your lemons from Argentina, can you tell us about industry and market conditions there at present?

    SM: Yes, we have an easier life than many other colleagues in the fruit juice business. Right now, lemon is a very healthy sector to be in.

    The good news about Argentina is that 75% of lemons are produced for industry already. The whole region is industry focused will be even more in the near future.

    If you look back at the orange fruit juice industry in Argentina it was larger than Brazil in the 1960s. You can see there a very easy example of what can be achieved when you focus in producing for industry at the correct geography.

    FJF: Are lemons resilient to disease such as citrus greening?

    SM: Yes, they are resilient to some diseases. Most of the orange trees were killed by diseases but the lemon trees survived. But if you are talking about HLB then there is no good news. HLB will arrive and we will have to live with it. We will have to do what countries like Brazil are doing and learn from their experience.

    FJF: Do you see any other countries or regions competing with Argentina?

    SM:  To be very honest, a good business will always create its own competition. This is a reality. Argentina does have an advantage, but will have to increase its focus in producing for industry and setting the world’s highest quality standards.

    The serious global buyers who are looking for significant supply of lemon juice concentrate with strict parameters of freshness, colour, traceability and the lowest AR’s content will have few alternatives to Argentina origin.

    FJF: Do you see the trend for lemon slowing any time soon? With the trends of sustainability and naturalness growing in developed countries they appear to be prepared to pay the price for quality and provenance, particularly the younger generation.

    SM: Yes, what is going on for lemons stems from the demand side. The demand figures are very interesting. We are growing our supply year after year and the demand is still there and will continue to grow along with the increasing new product launches that are promoting natural ingredients and freshness.

    To conclude: we are seeing larger production figures than ever before, and we are seeing the demand growing year by year. Our sales figures have grown substantially, specially to those customers who pack products based on these new trends. The new customers – those that are launching these exciting new beverage products on the market – are increasing their consumption year after year. It is definitely an upward trend. From the lemon industry’s point of view – long may it continue. Everyone is a winner.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 17 Jan
    From Rejected Fruit to Premium Juice. How a leading Swedish grocery chain teamed up with a small start-up business to produce premium juice from the fruit that nobody wanted.

    From Rejected Fruit to Premium Juice. How a leading Swedish grocery chain teamed up with a small start-up business to produce premium juice from the fruit that nobody wanted.

    Just over a year ago two young entrepreneurs approached the Swedish grocery chain ICA offering to take their rejected fruit and recycle it into bottles of high quality fruit juice that ICA could buy back and sell in their supermarkets. This would reduce waste, generate income for both companies and benefit the environment and society. Simple and very effective – as some of the best ideas are. This circular approach to resources and waste management was recognised as serving as a source of inspiration for the whole of the retail trade in the region and the initiative was shortlisted for the Nordic Council Environment Prize 2017.
    Peter Hägg was the senior category manager at the ICA fruit and vegetable division when he started up this project with Rescued Fruit – now called Rescued – back in 2016. Peter is currently responsible for sponsorships at ICA and is involved in sponsoring selected humanitarian causes such as the Red Cross and the Pink Ribbon Childhood Foundation. Peter will return to his previous position in the fruit and veg team later this year.

    The ICA Group is a retail company with 1300 grocery stores in Sweden. The fruit and vegetable section of the business where the Rescued Fruits initiative was first launched is situated in Helsingborg and employ upwards of 80 people working within category development and the buying and replenishing of fruit and vegetables for all the depots within Sweden.

    ‘This circular approach to resources and waste management was recognised as serving as a source of inspiration for the whole of the retail trade in the region’

    Rescued, then called Rescued Fruits was founded in Helsingborg in 2015. The background was that there is too much good fruits and vegetables thrown away, unnecessarily. Rescued, salvage fruit and vegetables which otherwise would be wasted, fruit and vegetables that do not fit into corporate production. For example, bruised apples, wrong sized pears or weird-looking carrots. They check, sort and wash everything gently and then turn the goodies into great juice. The different kinds vary depending on the season, which means flavours vary too. The juices are sold mainly in coffee shops, restaurants and selected grocery stores in Sweden. Rescued now has 8 employees and has increased revenues by 237 % during the period 2016-17.

    Here Peter Hägg from ICA talks to Fruit Juice Focus about his experience of the Rescued initiative he helped to launch and why it is important today that ideas such as these should be replicated worldwide.

    Peter Hagg

     

    Fruit Juice Focus (FJF): How did ICA get involved with Rescued, how did this whole idea come about?
    Peter Hägg (PH): Normally it is not very easy for a small company, such as Rescued was then, to just walk into the offices of a large company like ICA and say we have a business idea can we have a contract please! Which is exactly what Truls Christenson and Cecilia Larsson did when they approached us at the Helsingborg offices of ICA. It did help that at the Helsingborg offices we have a forward-thinking management team which were able to speed up the acceptance and commencement of the project.

    These young entrepreneurs came into our office during the autumn of 2015 having just turned 29 and 19. And talk about good timing! The initial meeting with Truls and Cecilia took place one month before we were setting up the strategy for the coming year.

    They had some interesting questions regarding our business. They observed that the ICA operation in Helsingborg imported a large amount of fruit and vegetables and suggested that there must be waste in our supply chain.

    I was thinking about that for a while and I thought no, we don’t have much waste really. Especially not for apples where we know we have one of the smallest percentages that we record as waste in our warehouse – it’s barely 1.8% or close to this.

    But when I then looked at what 1.8% was in actual kilos it turned out to be 8000 kilos of apples which equates to approximately 11,000 bottles of juice during the course of one year. I then thought in more detail about the waste aspect of our business.

    Of course, those kilos I referred to above for apples are not constant from one week to another at that same level. It can vary a lot over time. It could be just a small amount of damaged items or it could be a complete container that is deemed as being of unsuitable quality or damaged in some way that has arrived and is sitting in our warehouse. This might mean 24 tonnes of fruit is not usable.
    On these occasions we call the supplier and discuss what to do with the fruit since the quality is not in line with the agreed specification.

    Do they want us to sort it? This would cost some money. Do they want us to send it back? This would cost the supplier money organising return transport. Or do they want us to try selling it for a discount price? Thereby reducing all profit and sometimes reducing normal turnover of accepted fruit with normal margin. If the above solutions are rejected the products will end up as landfill gas (biogas) and that will also end up as a dumping cost for each pallet. These are the normal solutions for a container of rejected fruit that arrives at our Helsingborg depot.
    After reflecting on this we realised that Truls and Cecilia’s proposal could make sense and we agreed to talk more.

    FJF: Can you explain in more detail what Rescued were proposing?
    PH: The business idea Rescued put on the table was that they would take all rejected fruit off our hands. Truls and Cecilia didn’t want to pay for the fruit because then, as they pointed out, it’s not waste. ‘We want to take care of the real waste’ they said. We at ICA could throw them all away but it would cost us at least EUR10 per pallet to do this so it’s a cheaper way for us just to send it to Rescued for free than to get rid of it.
    The plan that we agreed was that we would send to Rescued from our depots all the rejected, unusable fruit that we couldn’t sell in our stores. They would then process it into fruit juice, bottle and label it as ICA private label. We would buy the finished product back into our warehouse and then stock it for sale in our retail outlets.
    Having secured this deal with us Rescued were able to go to their bank and report that they had a contract with a major customer – ICA – thus securing a business loan to set up their factory and install the machinery needed to commence operations. The team behind Rescued made that happen within six months.

    ‘The business idea Rescued put on the table was that they would take all rejected fruit off our hands’

    FJF: When did the first bottles of Rescued juice start rolling off the production line?
    PH: It was June of 2016 that things began to move and we were in a position to start selling bottles of Rescued through our stores. We generated a lot of attention both in the media and with our customers due to the fact that no one had done anything like this before.
    FJF: How has the operation developed? What obstacles have you and Rescued experienced along the way and how have they been overcome?
    PH: One of the hard parts for the Rescued team is to make the operation viable where the quantities of fruits are fluctuating. To combat this as the company developed they have taken on a number of other big importers around Sweden providing them with an economy of scale which has made a big difference. Also at ICA we have run trials with some of our bigger retail outlets where they send back any waste from the stores to our warehouse and then we transport it on to them for processing.

    What we also did from the beginning was a conscious decision not to make any profit from this project. We decided that it was a great thing to be able to rescue fruit that somebody had planted and nurtured and grown from the soil and transported it across the globe only to have it rejected and on the verge of being destroyed. We all felt that this was a terrible waste, so we are doing this for a good cause.

    We made a small investment for the first year for every bottle that we sold to be able to make this work and to start in a good way. And now since the volumes have grown we have started to break even.
    Since we launched it as a private label brand it has enabled us to use internal marketing resources to tell the story about rescued fruits and promote the product in Sweden.

    Meanwhile they have also developed their own brand at Rescued which are now selling to restaurants, coffee shops and bars in Sweden. They have managed to create a really good premium label and are able to sell at premium prices in these restaurants and cafes with the result that nearly 80% of their turnover comes from their premium brand. ICA is now only a small part of their business.

    FJF: What happens when there is not enough damaged fruit in the ICA chain? Do you slow down production of the bottled juices or do you supplement it with undamaged fruit? How do you manage that situation?
    PH: We have discussed combining damaged fruit with industrial contracted fruit but we have never done it. I don’t think it’s a bad idea because in order to have an operation that’s running to save as much fruit as possible if there is 80% rescue or there is 100% or 70% it shouldn’t really matter because it’s also important that the shelves in the stores are always filled up with juice.
    If you leave an empty space on the shelves someone else will take the spot. We have not taken a decision to combine with industrial contracts yet. It could happen in the future. For now we have sold the juice in the category of fruit and vegetables. In that specific category in the stores you set something up every day and then you compare it from one day to another and decide how you will present the fruit and vegetables section. It’s not like an ordinary shelf of bottles of drink for example. We have accepted that during certain times of the year there will be a shortage due to lack of fruits.
    It is a very good thing that in the ICA stores we are able to display the fruit juices right next to the apples in the stores and this demonstrates to the consumers that ICA are very much responsible for what we do.
    Together with Truls and Cecilia we have also set up the diplomas whereby we reward the stores who are good at sending back the fruit and we can send them a diploma to pin up on the wall that says thank you for rescuing 200kg of fruit made into delicious juice. Most companies like ours always have empty space on the lorries going back to the depots as we are still transporting crates or rolling container pallets and rejected items from the stores. There is always transport for that so there isn’t any extra cost to us transporting this back to the depot – it’s just that we are filling up the trucks better.

    ‘We reward the stores who are good at sending back the fruit. We send them a diploma that says thank you for rescuing 200kg of fruit made into delicious juice’
    FJF: You say the price for these juices is higher than the standard pricing due to the more labour- intensive production methods?
    PH: Yes, that is correct. Even if the product is cheap (free in effect) you still need to collect the fruits. And when it comes into Rescued’s warehouse they need to store the fruit properly. Rescued also need to sort it before they commence juice production. For instance, they need to take away all the most damaged fruit and all the stickers on the apples – and we have a lot of stickers – and this is a process that needs more attention and involves more cost than a juice factory. And this is what makes our juice a bit more expensive when you relate it to everything else. Also, there are small things such as the handicraft of tasting the products and the mixing process to produce a delicious juice which adds to the cost. Remember, apple varieties vary and create different challenges that need to be handled by adding ginger, lemon or cinnamon to achieve perfection.
    Consumers are prepared to pay a premium price because they recognise that this is a good cause and the delicious result is worth every penny.

    ‘Consumers are prepared to pay a premium price because they recognise that this is a good cause and the delicious result is worth every penny’

    FJF: Are you considering extending this process beyond apples?
    PH: We have used pears. We started with marmalade from pears then we discovered after a while that one pear is one jar of marmalade and Swedish people don’t each much marmalade so we can’t rescue that much. We have also created a juice with pears and lemons and that works quite well. We also use different ingredients like lemons to be able to spice the juice even if its apple content of say 80% we can still use lemons and ginger and other similar ingredients. We can use different flavouring products when we have waste on those as well.
    FJF: Can you quantify how much fruit has been rescued since the initiative was introduced?
    PH: By mid-2017 after the first 12 months since launch, approximately 33,466kg of fruit has been saved from ICA’s warehouses and ICA stores corresponding to 54,336 bottles of juice. This continues to grow on a monthly basis. We look forward to hearing from companies in other countries and regions on how they might be introducing the same processes to their rejected fruit. Everybody can win from this initiative.

    Truls

    We are so proud and happy for the cooperation with ICA. We have learned a lot from each other along the way. I still remember when it all began. Now it feels surreal that that we managed to fill the first 20 000 bottles with a funnel and a measuring cup. There are a lot of new things in the pipeline and we are looking forward to rescuing more fruits and vegetables working together with ICA
    Truls Christenson, one of the initiators behind the project at Rescued.

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 16 Jan
    THE DYNAMICS OF THE GLOBAL FRUIT JUICE MARKET

    THE DYNAMICS OF THE GLOBAL FRUIT JUICE MARKET

    Philip CoverdaleGlobalData recently published a report on the Dynamics of the Global Fruit Juice Market. Philip Coverdale, GlobalData’s Director of Consulting, Beverages, presented an overview of the report’s findings at the recent Juice Summit. Such was the interest in our review of the session in the November/December edition of Fruit Juice Focus that Philip has written an expanded extract for this issue. Here Philip looks at two key areas of interest – the global performance of fruit juice and nectars, and the seven top trends affecting the industry.

    At GlobalData we collect information on volumes and the markets in every single drinks and food category in 100+ countries and send out half a million surveys every year to consumers globally, checking their views on shopping habits and drivers to consumption. It is from these responses that we are able to draw on to form the basis of the trends that I am focussing on in this article. Not only to say what is going on in the market but predicting what we think is going to happen in the future.

    FRUIT JUICE AND NECTAR PERFORMANCE GLOBALLY
    Although our research is focused on the EU we have provided some context by including Fig 1 which covers all the major regions of the world. This is based on consumption per capita in 2016 on the X axis and average growth rates for the past three years on the Y axis. The size of the bubble is the volume of juice and nectars produced in that market. Any bubbles that are to the right of the chart are the higher per capita consumption markets and the opposite are the bubbles towards the left. And likewise the bubbles that are higher up the chart are those regions in growth and those low down are in decline.

    What immediately becomes apparent is that Europe and North America are quite heavily in decline, despite the fact that they are quite high per capita consumption markets. It’s the emerging markets of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Asia Pacific (APAC) and African regions that are portraying the opposite picture and are growing extremely quickly. There are many of reasons for this, growing middle classes is one of them, an expanding economy is another. There is also the influence of changing demographics where growing migration is contributing towards growth and usage of juices and nectars in those areas. APAC being so large in physical size is quite a high volume market, but in terms of the per capita consumption it is very low.

    Therefore the opportunity for these bubbles to move to the right to get more up towards Europe is huge and if I was a juice producer I would be looking towards those emerging markets as a real opportunity for growth.

    Latin America (LATAM) is an interesting one because the slight decline in the region is primarily driven by a disastrous state of the economy and large unemployment with people choosing to trade down from drinking juices to drinking squash and powdered concentrate. Essentially the decline in Europe and North America is primarily driven by health concerns, whereas the decline in LATAM is primarily driven by the economic situation. We actually think that the prospects in juice in LATAM are looking up and are reasonable.

    In the EU our volume data shows that the market has declined by about 2.5% just between 2015/16 but the main point the research is trying to get across is that this downward trend hides the real opportunity in Europe where certain brands are doing particularly well. For example cold-pressed brands are focusing on value growth rather than volume growth. We know that consumers are drinking less but drinking better quality juice and are willing to pay more for this. Successful brands are very much aligning themselves with these changing consumer trends which I cover later in this piece.
    Nowadays if you walk into a café, maybe not a ‘greasy spoon’ but any mainstream cafe the shelves are full of cold-pressed juices and freshly squeezed juices. You wouldn’t find any from concentrate or ambient juice – and if you did you would wonder what is going on! So there is a massive change from what was common place 15 years ago. Similarly in retail, in terms of volume, 15 years ago there used to be huge consumption of juice drinks but a great deal of it was from concentrate. The ambient and from concentrate side of the market has gone down substantially and it’s now all about the Tropicana’s and the Copella’s to name just two brands as examples.

    I like to draw the comparison between old juice and new juice. When you look at shelves 15 to 20 years ago it was old juice, it was rectangular packs of basic juice, and now you look at the shelves and it’s beautiful packaging, it’s delicious juice. Another point to mention is one of the reasons why I think there’s a decline in Europe is changing consumption occasions. I look at my own situation where 10 years ago breakfast was a real occasion and we used to sit down as a family and everyone would have their cereals and everybody would have a glass of orange juice with their cereals. Now everyone is in such a mad rush and a lot of people are consuming breakfast on the go that the family breakfast occasion with people drinking juice is much less than it used to be and I think that is very much contributing to juice declines.

    Fig 2 really just reiterates the point. I have looked at the stats for chilled versus ambient fruit juice in the EU and you will see that for ambient the five-year average decline is 4.3% and that decline has stayed the same between 2015/16 at about 4.3%. But if you look at chilled the opposite is happening. The five year growth is 1.6% but interestingly if you look at the growth between 2015/16 there is a 4.8% increase which in a quite a high per capita region is actually quite substantial. Something has really happened over the past couple of years which is really driving this chilled juice area of the market. Perhaps it is because the economies are generally picking up in Europe. A similar scenario is from concentrate versus not from concentrate. It’s the identical picture. With from concentrate juice going down by over 5% over the last five years, average per year, and not from concentrate 3.3% average growth for the last five years and that has picked up dramatically between 2015/16 at 5.3%.

    To bring the previous figs to life I have included fig 3 which looks at a couple of important juice markets in Europe – France and the UK – where if you look at discount volumes (discount is where if 100% is the benchmark for the bestselling brand and pack size produced, then an index below 80 is what we class as discount and an index of over 120 is what we class as premium) you see premium in both France and the UK is growing massively, mainstream is fairly stagnant and discount is going down substantially – especially in the UK.

    In my view the key point to take away from this data is that despite that initial chart showing that Europe is in decline, the premium end of the price spectrum is growing strongly and juice producers need to be looking at aligning their product portfolios with this more premium end of the market. In some cases I think they are getting the message. In the UK they definitely are but if you look at a market like Germany this is not necessarily so. Much of the juice that you get in Germany is still old juice.
    So how does the future look? Essentially if you look at it in volume terms (see fig 4) the declines that we have seen over the past five years we think are going to slow down slightly over the next five years but still remain in decline, with nectars declining more so than 100% fruit juice. But if you look in value terms, the decline is that much less and if you look at what we are forecasting in the grand scheme of things it is actually not too bad so we think that in value terms in Europe, juice and nectar producers are going to manage to more or less hold their own.

    THE SEVEN TOP TRENDS IMPACTING THE INDUSTRY
    At GlobalData we track over 100 trends and sub trends of what is going on in the market and these are just seven of those trends which we believe that juice producers and juice brands should be taking note of in order to align more with that premium value growth opportunity.
    The first one is Healthy Hydration. Everyone has been talking about healthy hydration for a while but the fact of the matter is the primary driver in Europe for the decline in juice is because of increased health awareness. Juice has received some bad press on how much sugar it contains and people have massively reduced their juice intake. We know that health is a key driver in soft drinks purchasing decisions and ‘better for you’ is really transitioned from a kind of nice to have to a necessity. But a key point here is that juice has a whole range of attributes that consumers associate with health. High in vitamins, high in antioxidants. Functionality – it’s natural, it’s fresh, raw. It’s only got really one ingredient -the fruit – and if it’s organic that’s even better. All of these attributes consumers view as healthy.

    It’s a shame that sugar has been the one that has come to the fore but actually there is a lot that juice produces can be doing to counteract this and I think that by producing premium juices using some of these terms it almost trumps and offsets the anti-sugar sentiment. When you go into a Pret a Manger sandwich bar in the UK and you see a beautiful cold-pressed apple and beetroot you don’t really think about the sugar you think about how good it is for you. Forget the whole ‘lower in sugar’ angle on the packaging that has gone before – it is better to focus on the positive side to juice using terms such as raw, pure and clean. Those three words from our surveys really resonate with the consumers, they love the whole raw thing – clean living! I think focusing on the nutritional benefits of fruit juice and developing functional and enhanced juices highlighting the vitamins nutrients and benefits is absolutely key.
    The second trend is Gut Happy which is basically digestive health. Although this may appear to be quite niche, if you actually look down the supermarket aisles they are increasingly full of products that aid digestion.

    From our 500,000 surveys every year we know that digestive health is the third most desired health benefit in food and drink with the number one and number two positions taken up by generic terms like health and wellbeing. Digestive health is one of the most sought-after benefits in the product.
    76% of consumers in our surveys find the claim ‘good for digestion and gut health’ appealing in food and drink products. An example of a product demonstrating this that is now becoming mainstream is Kefir. You only have to go into some of the major supermarkets in the UK and there is Kefir everywhere. Similarly if you go into an outlet such as Leon you have got Kombucha on the menu which is just amazing.

    It has always been massive in America and is slowly infiltrating the market in Europe.
    The third trend is the Adultification of soft drinks. We know there is massive rise in alcohol avoidance and that is definitely driving demand for more sophisticated adult soft drinks and these are consumed at the occasions where you would typically drink alcohol – in the pub, at home or when you get back from work. We know that over 20% of every age bracket except the over 65’s are actively trying to reduce alcohol consumption and in the UK over 27% of the millennial age bracket now don’t drink alcohol. Which go back 20 years if you’re at university, and you didn’t drink alcohol everybody would think you were a bit weird.

    An increasing number of the soft drink producers are creating these more adult soft drinks and also many of the alcohol companies are producing either no alcohol versions of their beer like Heineken’s zero zero beer. Big alcohol companies are looking to launch soft drinks within the adult space. They see this rising lack of millennial drinking as a real threat to the industry so the point here is that juice producers need to be considering pack design that positions juice as a credible alcohol alternative and currently they just don’t. You would not go into a pub or bar and order a bottle of Tropicana!
    Using sophisticated and experimental flavours is one of our main tips here. Emphasising the quality of the ingredients provenance, authentic production methods and heritage – craft drinks essentially – I think will work well for juice.

    Cold is Hot is the fourth trend. I didn’t want to concentrate on just cold-pressed juice. I also wanted to touch on the actual term cold because we know from our consumer surveys the term cold addresses this real desire for a cleaner diet and using the word cold is a real consumer friendly way to express that whole clean label concept. And we know that the word cold generates these feelings of freshness natural and raw which work well for juice companies. Where consumers may have negative health perceptions of juice, cold-pressed juice evokes a reaction which overcomes this.

    The industry buzzwords which are on trend and which the cold concept taps into are Raw, Fresh, Natural, Real and Pure. You can see this reflected in other consumer products with cold brew coffee, cold brew tea and you are even seeing water with added cold-pressed juice. The brands are increasingly looking to introduce the word cold into their marketing and on-pack messaging and the consumers are snapping it up.

    Savoury and Spice. This is the fifth trend and I think it fits into both healthy hydration and the adultification of soft drinks. We know that savoury and spicy flavours are really appealing to consumers. We know that consumers, especially younger consumers, are willing to experiment with exciting flavours, but they are also looking for the health angle. In our global survey 80% of consumers think that ginger has a positive impact on health, with 66% thinking the same for cinnamon and 56% for turmeric. Just three ingredients picked out of an extensive list. Consumers are really valuing those ingredients and as a result we are probably going to see quite a big increase in the number of ginger flavoured juices for example. We know that all the big soft drink companies are looking at how they can introduce ginger into their products.

    Next trend – six – is Plant Power. There seems to be this healthy halo associated with plants and botanicals and we are seeing a great many soft drinks companies introducing botanicals into their ranges. From our surveys in 2015 consumers are telling us that they think botanicals and plant extract have an impact on health – 63% was the global average which is notably high. The implications for juice companies – obviously juice comes from a plant – is that they should be capitalising on the naturally functional properties of botanicals and plants by promoting this on-pack.

    The seventh and final trend is Beautiful Packaging. As mentioned earlier, in Europe you go into a cafe and the shelves are full of beautifully packaged juices. You cannot release a premium juice without putting it in something that looks pretty good. One of the really big points here is the rise of online and how shoppers scan through everything online when they’re doing their Internet shopping. They pause for a split second to look at a picture and if it doesn’t reach out and grab them they are just going to move onto the next one. The importance of beautiful packaging and imagery that kind of fits with this increasingly visual society in which we live in, is hugely important.

    To summarise – if you look at the global level, Europe and North America are still in decline, emerging markets such as MENA and APAC are the fastest-growing markets and offer the greatest opportunity, and although in Europe fruit juice and nectars volumes are declining – value remains fairly strong and this really points to premiumisation in the market.
    Out of these seven trends that are covered in this article I think I would distil it down to two major areas. The first is premiumisation – which is high-quality ingredients, better processing techniques, interesting provenance, heritage, beautiful packaging and so on. And the second one is tactics to counter negative health perceptions – such as healthy hydration, promoting digestion, using savoury, spicy, botanical ingredients and trying to cater for alcohol avoiders.

    GlobalData is now one of the world’s largest consumer research, market intelligence companies specialising in strategy and consultancy work for fruit juice brands. They work closely with all the major drinks brands, retailers and food service suppliers around the world along with ingredients suppliers and packaging and equipment manufacturers. GlobalData work with companies such as McKinsey and Bain on specialist consultancy projects and worked with the AIJN to produce the 2017 European Fruit Juice Market Report.
    Philip Coverdale moved across to GlobalData with Canadean, the drinks industry specialist research and data agency, when the company was amalgamated into GlobalData along with 20 other separate market research agencies
    Philip Coverdale can be reached on Philip.coverdale@globaldata.com. 0044 7734 324198. Skype: philipcoverdale

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 16 Nov
    From Sol to Soul

    From Sol to Soul

    One man’s vision to connect smallholder fruit farmers in Nicaragua with conscientious consumers in export markets worldwide, through organic and sustainably produced dried fruits, puree’s and fruit juices.

    Mango Farmer

    With virtually no job prospects and limited educational opportunities in rural areas and with almost half the population living on less than USD1.00 per day, Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Breaking the cycle of poverty is almost impossible for small farmers trying to simply exist let alone compete in the global market place.

    Will Burke, founder and CEO of Sol Organica, the parent company of Sol Simple and Burke Agro, had other ideas. There must be a way to bring economic and educational opportunities to marginalized communities while simultaneously protecting and utilizing the country’s natural resources?

    “I envisioned starting a fruit company, but not just any fruit company. I wanted to provide education and training to farmers, operate the plant using renewable energy, and support communities by employing single mothers.” Says Will.

    In 2007 Sol Simple was founded to provide the commercial face of Burke Agro’s dried and pureed tropical fruit products and juices business and to form the important bridge between global export markets and the Nicaraguan farmers.

    Here Will Burke talks to Fruit Juice Focus about how it all started and how his unique social enterprise model has helped provide market based solutions for poverty alleviation.

    Fruit Juice Focus (FJF): Can you tell us a bit about your personal background in the fruit industry and how you came to set up Sol Organica?

    Will Burke, Sol Organica (WB): I started out in education as a teacher and my first experience of Nicaragua was when I took up a teaching post here and it was here that I met my wife, also a teacher. After a couple of years working in Nicaragua and then back to the US for a spell at graduate school in Boulder, Colorado we ended up in Venezuela, teaching at the American embassy school. After six years experiencing what we felt was the deterioration of the country under Chavez we decided it was time to move on.

    We asked ourselves, do we want to continue in education? Or do we want to move back to Nicaragua where my in-laws were living and start up a social enterprise, giving back something to the country through education or a business?

    We brainstormed ideas and my wife reminded me of a moment when walking on the beach in Nicaragua a few years prior we saw thousands of mangos just rotting on the ground. We thought back to our days in Boulder, which is really the capital of natural organic food products in the US, where people were regularly paying USD15.00 per pound for organic dried mangos. And we thought how sad it was that these growers with all this product didn’t have a connection to that market and what a missed opportunity it was.

    We started researching organic dried mangos as an idea and reaching out to Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) and development agencies in Nicaragua, getting the lay of the land. I met a couple of growers, looked at my savings, drafted up a business plan and spoke to a couple of people in the market and thought ‘this idea might have some legs’. Long story short I invested, and we set up the company.

    We moved back to Nicaragua and started up a fruit drying plant to dry organic fruits. I identified and organised small growers, transitioning them from conventional farming to organic farming using my educational skills. I chose to work with single mothers which, as well as furthering gender equality, also worked from an educational viewpoint.  One of the best ways to give children the opportunity to go to school in third world countries is to ensure that their mothers are employed and that they have control of their income so that they would make sure that their children were educated.

    We introduced renewable energy into the process by importing solar collectors that can heat air through solar power which is part of the environmental impact we were looking to achieve. An additional impact was the transitioning of the small growers from conventional to organic farming. The idea was to educate them, improve their yield, give them a niche market where one didn’t exist for them before and improve their livelihoods as a result.

    So that was the DNA of the company and it started with dried fruit.

    Within two years we realised that there is more to the tropical fruit world than dried fruit, so I started investing a little bit in pulping equipment to get into the juice business. In our dried fruit operation, we were experiencing bottlenecks depending on how many dryers we could fit in the limited space we had. I realised we could process a lot more volume in this space by expanding into the juice business and simultaneously improve our social impact. And that’s how the business evolved into juice.

    FJF: What difficulties did you face in the early years of the business and how did you deal with them?

    WB: I didn’t meet with any real opposition, but we were certainly going against the grain in terms of working with organic production. When we started the plan was that the NGO’s, government institutions and development agencies would support me by helping to identify growers and work with us to provide training for them in the transition from conventional to organic farming. And initially they were committed to it. But at that time Nicaragua was going through a political upheaval with the arrival of the newly elected Sandinista government six months after we started the business. The result was that very quickly the development agencies were subject to a freeze on spending and the funding dried up. Any funding that remained was either focused on certain regions in the country or were not focused on organic agriculture and couldn’t help us out.

    So, we had to do it on our own, and I was out there in my truck identifying more and more growers and integrating them into our system and then working to transition them from conventional to organic farming. In time we were able to hire our first agronomist to take this on as his own project which was a big step forward.

    Another hurdle was the dried fruit market. The real issue was that we were selling dried fruit in bulk and with us being a small operation, the costs were too high, and we couldn’t compete on price

    To combat this, I decided to develop a brand, Sol Simple, that would become the face of our company positioning us a brand that whilst more expensive than other products, reflected our commitment to organic principles and our social and environmental impact. This brand was born from need but has worked incredibly well for us and today we remain the only company processing fruit and certainly the only company in organic fruit production in the country.

    Pitahaya Farmer_2

    FJF: Can you tell us more about your move into the fruit juice and puree market and the products you produce.

    WB: Our main focus is pitahaya puree or red dragon fruit puree – which is pitahaya with the ‘h’. Whereas pitaya without the ‘h’ is white pitaya. Pitahaya is indigenous to Nicaragua and Central America with Nicaragua being the largest pitahaya producer in the region and the largest organic producer in the world.  This is primarily due to the market that we have been able to develop with our partners, having planted and harvested more and more pitahaya over the years as a direct result of having been able to transition more and more growers into organic farming from conventional farming. So that is our number one product and we have been able to make a name for ourselves through that.

    Meanwhile we have been really focused on passion fruit juice and developing the value chain and finding key customers that want to partner with us and who are willing to stick to a fixed price for the long term in order to create market stability. This allows us to plan ahead on the production side and look to increase our customers’ use of passion fruit as they then have the ability to project years in advance what the ingredient cost will be. That means we will be able to grow organically with them and provide a sustainable market for our small growers. Everybody wins.

    And I think that needs to be the case for most fruits and in agriculture in general – especially when you are talking about small growers because if they don’t win nobody wins in the end. Small growers deserve a dignified livelihood and raw material prices need to provide that for them. And once they have that it provides for a stable market.

    FJF: How do you manage your collective of 700 or more small growers? How do you ensure they maintain the standards that you require and deliver the products on time?

    WB: We dedicate a good proportion of our budget to our field programme. We have nine agronomists out in the field on their motorcycles everyday giving workshops, doing farm visits and working on financial literacy. We go through everything from planting to pest and disease control, to how do you manage your farm as a business and we have developed a curriculum that underpins this.

    We have also designed systems for our 700 or so small growers organising them by collection centres within their communities. These collection centres create a central dry place where the grower can come when we schedule pick up to collect their harvest and provides the food safety and hygiene that we need.

    At each collection point there is a committee that is part of the internal control system. This committee will also act as the auditors for other collection points meaning that they will visit another community, going from farmer to farmer reviewing and auditing their paperwork. The committee for the collection point being audited will in turn audit another collection point in the same way and so it goes on. This means committees are not self-auditing but auditing other communities they don’t know which promotes integrity.

    The system works, and they respect it that way. With organic agriculture you need to ensure that no one is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. If one grower cheats, then everyone loses. They take it very seriously and we take it seriously. In addition, we are audited. it’s a ‘ride along audit’ from the local agricultural department. Every Monday a representative from the ministry of agriculture rides along with us visiting the farmers and checking their production registries.

    Pitahaya Farmer_3

    FJF: Do you still get involved on the ground with the social and environmental issues of the business and how is the company structured?

    WB: Culturally the Nicaraguans aren’t really used to a non-hierarchical system especially when they need to think on their feet. They prefer to talk to their supervisor and then that supervisor comes to talk with me so there is still an element of the hierarchy system even though we have been trying to get away from it.

    We are a company of 250 employees and we have had a board of directors since the onset of the company – it’s a three-member board and I am the president of the board and I am also CEO of the corporation.

    I am certainly still in weekly meetings and making decisions as needed but as we’ve grown I have been able to delegate quite a bit. It’s always important to hire people that are smarter and more agile than one’s self and I think we have done a good job in identifying people who want to be part of the mission and want to get out there and make a positive impact and be more comfortable with the responsibility they carry.

    FJF: How does your production and distribution work? What sort of infrastructure do you have in place?

    WB: We own all the infrastructure, all the packing materials – although sometimes we co pack for food service, retail packs, and for frozen products where typically our customers own the packing material and we warehouse it for them.

    But we own all the equipment and most of the packing material like drums along with the land, the offices, warehouses and the trucks. Sometimes we outsource refrigerated containers when we need more frozen storage. The plant has two lines. A juicing line and a puree line, with each of those lines having a capacity to produce a container every day and a half whether it’s mango puree, pitahaya puree, pineapple juice or passion fruit juice.

    FJF: How have your destination markets evolved over the years with regards sustainability and social impact issues?

    WB: Our main market is North America, but we have a deep connection with Europe.

    In the early days I wasn’t able to get much support from NGOs but the Dutch have a really good training programme through their agency CBI, which is a European export coaching programme. I enrolled in the three-year course and it proved to be a great success helping us form good contacts in the business. It has allowed me to look at Europe not only as a real sustainable market but also as an opportunity for us to diversify into and adapt to the different tastes and different requirements.

    Europe is more up to date when it comes to fair trade and that’s an opportunity for us. Americans are a lot less knowledgeable about what fair trade is and what it means and why it should be supported whereas Europeans are much more savvy.

    So that’s an opportunity in terms of niche markets for us because frankly we are more expensive than most of our competitors as we don’t necessarily deal in commodities. We offer a lot more added value. What we see in the US and in Europe especially, is that more and more buyers and the brands themselves and the bottlers, want to get closer to the source of supply for a lot of reasons. One is for food safety and transparency and traceability. The other is that more and more consumers want to know where their products are coming from. They want to know the source country, what kind of farmers are growing the fruit and what they are buying. And the brands are having to respond to that.

    There are many more brands now that have started out with a social mission and are growing incredibly fast but are finding that there is a lack of companies like Sol Simple that provide the authentic connection to a grower. We now have people seeking us out who are elated when they see that we provide sustainability reports and that we partner with local government institutions and NGO’s and can demonstrate that we are actively improving livelihoods. These brands need a sustainable source and to be able to report to their shareholders who want to see a positive social impact and a positive financial return on their investment.

    FJF: What do you see as the next phase in the Sol Organica story, and how do you see the future of the Nicaraguan fruit industry?

    WB: That’s the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question!  It’s a mixture of many things. On the one hand it’s more of the same as we have an excellent model. We do want to diversify into other fruits and their respective purees and juices. Pitahaya is number one, and we believe passion fruit will be number two and we are heavy in mango – especially dried mango and primarily we’d like to develop those markets even more because there is still idle time on our equipment.

    As we grow we do see opportunities in Central America in natural beverages and we see opportunities in maybe providing add-on services like pre-blended products. We are already packing for food service and retail and are very good at that. We are also looking at Individually Quick Frozen (IQF). We’ve run trials on IQF and had positive responses but don’t own IQF equipment and would have to look at the investment costs for this. IQF is when you buy a bag of frozen blueberries in the supermarket they are IQF frozen blueberries. They are not frozen together in a big block whereas 20 years ago they were – nowadays they are individually frozen which improves the quality.

    Most importantly, we are actively working in regenerative agriculture, which focuses on soil health and carbon drawdown from the atmosphere.  It’s a non-politicized movement that everyone should get behind because it can be simply framed around improving water shed and soil management by planting more cover crops to increase top soil depths, rain water peculation, preserve fungi communities, and minimize soil runoff that we witness in the increasingly common heavy rains.  Whether organic or conventional, it improves yields and livelihoods as a result.

    Also, we would like to see more of a formal market for fruit in Nicaragua. One of the reasons that fruit in Nicaragua can be a little more expensive than fruit in neighbouring countries is because it is not industrialised yet. There is not enough consumption locally to create that formal market so what happens is we buy everything from our growers – grade A, B and C as there is not enough fruit planted. We are looking to get into organic fresh fruit exports because that way we can add more value for the grower by paying them more for the fresh quality fruit and paying them less than we currently pay for the second and thirds. It will help create the environment where our fruit juice processing company and our fruit juice is more competitive because the raw material is less expensive.

    FJF: How is the company performing financially?

    WB: This year we are projecting USD5million in revenue. We had some heavy rains which have affected some of the harvest which may result in us coming under that. We have a growth plan to hit USD20million in sales by the year 2020. And that’s not that far away!

    FJF: How do you see the future of the fruit juice industry?

    WB: It’s all about the Millennials! Those born between 1981 and the early 2000’s. People’s pallets are evolving. And through globalisation more and more products, especially exotics, are being made available. Social media is helping to spread the word about these different and interesting fruits and juice products like pitahaya, lychee, or soursop/graviola. More exotic unknown fruits have more opportunity today than they did five, ten years ago, because of those conditions and I think that the millennials play a good part in that they are always curious. They have sophisticated pallets they like to spend their money on food and on the experience. They have the social mindset so it is a really good opportunity for a company like ours and we are still trying to figure out how to engage more closely with that demographic because we think that they can really contribute to the social environmental and impact and help us grow our mission.

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 16 Nov
    Help for generation stress. The beverage start-up with a global footprint set to relax and de-stress UK consumers

    Help for generation stress. The beverage start-up with a global footprint set to relax and de-stress UK consumers

    Tranquini, the premium natural relaxation drinks brand, is shaking up the UK beverage sector following its recent launch into the marketplace with its product range of global de-stress and active relaxation drinks. Entering the UK market at a time when its healthcare and wellbeing sector is currently valued at GBP180bn and forecasted to rapidly grow to GBP209bn in 2020, according to a recent report by Price Waterhouse Coopers, Tranquini is following the consumer trend which is leaning towards de-stress and relaxation beverages.

    With its select blend of extracts Tranquini’s non-drowsy relaxation beverages are claimed to be particularly effective when there is a need to de-stress and focus.

    The company believes that the products will resonate with the ‘millennial’ marketplace where Tranquini’s health-focused product development has really struck a chord with ‘the stressed generation’ driving the vast fortunes of the UK health and wellbeing sector.

    The products and brand have been developed by a team with over 200 years’ experience at well-known global soft-drinks organisations, including Ahmed Elafifi, the company’s FounderBefore launching Tranquini, Austrian-Egyptian Elafifi spent more than a decade at Red Bull, driving the company’s growth, managing multi-national campaigns and serving as a key member of its Executive Board. Elafifi completed the global roll out of the Red Bull business and brand in 58 countries, growing its turnover from Euro40m to Euro800m. Billed as Tranquini’s Chief Relaxation Officer Elafifi was inspired to create Tranquini by perceiving a change in the beverages industry and a movement away from regular sugary soft drinks.

    Here Ahmed Elafifi talks to Fruit Juice Focus about the development of the Tranquini brand and how he and his team believe that this new range of innovative drinks products will help with modern life stresses in a range of scenarios that require focus and a positive mindset.

    Fruit Juice Focus (FJF): Can you tell us a about your background in the drinks industry and how did the idea for the Tranquini brand and the relaxation drinks products come about?

     Ahmed profileAhmed Elafifi, Tranquini (AE): I started my career at Proctor & Gamble in Cairo 1991 followed by the Henkel group in 1992, responsible for brand management and sales. In the mid-nineties I moved to the beverages sector and to the Coca Cola company. In total I worked for more than eleven years in the Coke organisation. For the first part I was in central marketing, returning several years later to manage the very big and vibrant Coca Cola business in Poland where I was Chairman and Managing Director of the bottling plant managing over 3000 staff and revenues of Euro1bn. This was my last job before I founded Tranquini.

    In-between my time with Coca Cola I spent seven years as the board member of Red Bull, I was tasked with managing very big promotional campaigns in the fastest growing markets for Red Bull like Japan, Russia and India. It was a really great and inspiring seven years. During this time my obsession of setting up my own private venture started.

    For personal reasons I needed to stop the global travelling which was all part of the job with Red Bull at that time and settle down in one place for a while and gather my thoughts which is why I came back to Coca Cola Poland to manage the business there.

    During this second spell at Coke I was involved in a major restructuring project and at that time I thought that I am not at all convinced that this is what I want to be doing working on such a difficult project as the restructuring program that involved making people redundant. I was not alone in this and I discovered that there were many colleagues and friends who were feeling the same.  Then this whole notion of relax, and be positive started to take hold because we knew that relaxed people have the capacity to be positive and this results in good things happening to all of us. This led to the whole proposition of Tranquini and eventually I took the decision to quit after more than 25 years in a corporate career to start this venture and pursue this journey.

    This was four and a half years ago. The first two years were all about set up – the creation of the proposition. What took the longest time was the creation of the formula for the drinks. We needed to create a formula which was all about the natural ingredients which had the efficacy and the functionality to deliver what we were after and at the same time can meet regulatory approval globally. This took us around two years to create the right ingredients for the drink itself and then two and a half years ago – specifically May 2015 – we started selling. And today we have Tranquini on the shelf in 39 countries around the world including Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Monaco, Italy, Spain, Greece, South Africa, India, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada.

    Nothing happens on its own. It is people that make things happen and I was very fortunate to be able to attract a team of very high-profile beverage professionals. When I started out in the beginning I always thought ‘who in their right mind would leave such a senior well paid job within the security of a major company and join such a venture as Tranquini?’ But what happened was I found a lot of people who were ready to do the jump, to create something new, and today we have a team of 13 individuals, including myself, who have 200 years of premium beverage lifestyle brand experience. Colleagues who are very much there with me on our journey to create this new category of relaxation drink and to create this new global brand with Tranquini.

    FJF: As the Founder of the company what different challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur working to establish a company and brand as opposed to those you encountered when working for the major drinks companies?

    AE: These big corporations have unbelievable resources, tools and systems. You have access to masses of consumer and market data at your fingertips, and the whole company knows how to use this data and get the maximum intelligence out of it. And then suddenly you find yourself rewinding back to a place where everything is a completely blank sheet of paper and that’s it.

    We were experiencing situations where someone would call me with an idea and the need to get some market analysis and I would say that’s great, but we don’t have any data, let’s create a report and start collecting this data now from scratch.

    One of the biggest and most important changes is that I am now having to think of the company in terms of cash flow  – it’s a completely different mind-set. I am always saying that we need lots of people from big corporations to join the company, but we have to educate them to think differently about the challenges we face in this start-up environment. It is almost like bringing in people who are football players and asking them to start playing tennis.

    FJF: You are obviously coping with the stress quite well – presumably in part thanks to drinking your own products to help maintain a relaxed environment! What is your view on stress in the world today and how are people coping?

    AE: Yes, exactly, but when you look at it the world today is so full of sources of stress. Stress on a macro level where you have the financial crisis and terrorism and there is also Trump. And on a micro level there is a lot of stress when it comes to family, work, relationships and money. Work is an unbelievable source of stress – tough negotiations, tough meetings and long hours. People when they want to make presentations or speeches they turn red, they start sweating and they get a knot in the stomach – these are symptoms of stress and anxiety attacks.

    People are trying to deal with or manage this stress by taking drugs, alcohol or comfort eating or extreme exercise and activities, but the fact is there is no convenient innocent alternative to these unhealthy remedies today. And this is exactly what we are trying to change with Tranquini . To create something which is made of tea and herbal extracts that are very well known to calm you and to help you deal with your own stress and help to affect positively your mood. This is something that is in a can or a bottle that you can pick up and drink just before a tough meeting or tough negotiation and you can get this very natural product help to deal with your anxiety and manage your stress and relaxation and positivity.

    FJF: You are positioning Tranquini in the growing healthcare and wellbeing sector. Do you see relaxation drinks as just another ‘fad’ amongst your target consumers or do you think it is here to stay?

    AE: This is a very important point. when you look at the type of stress that we are facing right now it is not something that is expected to go away. Not with the technology as it is today that is making everything even faster, and the need to be connected all the time.

    Even kids now –  the teenagers – they are posting that they are completely stressed about whether they are getting five ‘likes’ or 50 ‘likes’. They are stressed about their schooling. People at work are stressed. Driving too is very stressful where you need to relax otherwise it can lead to road rage. There are so many sources of stress around us and the need for relaxation is so big that I think that this is something that is not only here to stay but will increase over the coming years.

    When you look at other categories of beverages like energy drinks for example, they grew so fast at the end of the nineties/beginning of the two-thousands, engaging with the spirit of the times where people were saying ‘I want to work very hard, but I also want to play hard to compensate’. They were saying give me energy at any cost. The emergence of energy drinks was very much integral with that period and those drinks are still selling in large numbers today which is an indication of the potential growth for products like ours. Definitely not a ‘fad’.

    The new focus today for people around the world is the interest in managing stress and to have a more balanced life between work and play. it is a very important topic now. People are no longer motivated by the approach of ‘I have to work 50-80 hours per week and my whole life only revolves around this ‘, they also want to do their hobbies. They want to have their partners, they want to live their life outside of work.

    People are telling us now and telling the beverages sector overall that we need more natural, more healthy, less sugar based products and I think that by putting these two major insights together the need for relaxation and the need for natural and healthy drinks this is something that is here to stay. This is a trend that has attracted the consumer and the consumers are telling us they need this right now.

    FJF: Do you have any competitors in the market yet?  Companies looking to jump on the bandwagon having seen the success you are experiencing?

    AE: There are a couple of examples here and there, but they are very small instances and they are just in one or two spaces in a couple of countries around the world, and do not pose any major form of threat at present. Actually, competition is something that we are looking forward to. The more brands that launch in the relaxation drinks space the more we will get help to educate and grow the category, which will be good for everyone.

    FJF: Is the Tranquini brand making inroads into other countries and regions such as the US and continental Europe?

    AE: For North America we started in Canada and we are in final preparations for the launch in the US. In continental Europe we are already in many countries – in Germany we are now starting to gain traction, in the UK we are now spreading into Northern Ireland. We are in Spain and then also Poland and Greece, so we are more or less in 15 to 18 countries in Europe when you add in the current launches. We have a presence in the middle east in Egypt and Saudi, UAE Kuwait, Oman, South Africa and we are also in Asia in Hong Kong and Singapore and Indonesia. So, as you can see from the countries I have mentioned we are trying to increase our foothold in different geographies from where we will roll out the brand.

    FJF: Do you plan to launch more relaxation drinks products – particularly into the fruit juice sector?

    AE: At the moment the decision is to maximise the current products we have and to make sure that the consumers can reach out and find the best format and solution for their relaxation needs. We have the three offerings that fit well within the beverage sector today, namely the functional beverages in cans and the value added flavoured waters and still drinks in bottles. We will watch the space to see what the consumer trends are in the juice sector and how we might introduce new variations of our drinks to meet any developments.

    FJF: Can you tell us more about the ingredients used in the Tranquini drinks range?

    AE: The Tranquini drinks products are created in two parts. Firstly, there is the combination of the green tea extracts which contain Theanine which helps increase mental focus and concentration and this is blended with other natural products such as Chamomile, Lavender and Lemon Balm to create the base for the drink. Secondly, we add in the other elements that are made of natural fruit and vegetable juices to create the colours and flavours.

    We don’t need to use any preservatives as the cans are pasteurised and the bottles are asceptic. The sweeteners that we are using are sourced from natural fruit juice – in some cases they are made from fruit juice concentrate and in others it can be sourced from the sugar contained in the fruit. The level of sugar and sweeteners in these drinks compares well to other soft drinks which contain 14 grams per hundred millilitres whereas the Tranquini drinks have between two to five grams per hundred millilitres. A considerably lower level of calorie and sugar than other soft drinks.

    All the ranges we produce contain fruit juice elements in various guises such as mixed berries in both the Sparkling and Still drink varieties. The Water+Juice drink range includes Passion Fruit, Cherry and Apple Cherry.

    FJF: How is the company structured in terms of its management operation?  And how do your production and distribution arrangements work?

    AE: I have a management board made up of very high-level professionals all coming from the beverages industry from Coca Cola, Pepsi, Diageo, and other market leading companies and they are responsible for the marketing, sales and HR functions. The other partners are responsible for managing the business around the world.

    For Europe and for North America we use a canning operation based in Austria and a bottling plant in Italy. We are working with two exceptional partners here.  We also use production facilities based in India and Russia for distribution in their respective countries and a base in Singapore to supply the Asian region.

    FJF: Are you able to divulge any details on volumes sold, turnover?

    AE: Regretfully we cannot share this information with you, but we are off to a very good start in our first two and a half years, comparing well with other start-ups in beverages and we believe that we would be in the top range in terms of delivering good revenue numbers. Obviously, we are still a small venture and it is still early days but we are confident that we are on track both financially and organisationally.

    FJF: What is the next phase of development in the Tranquini story?

    AE: We have three very important directions we are spending the next three years working on. One is to oversee and complete the launch into almost forty countries, to expand into new countries and to consolidate our current position as the first global relaxation drink. The second part is to build an ‘innovation pipeline’ to help create this global brand we are aiming for. By this I mean we need to analyse in depth and work on products that will satisfy the very different geographic preferences, different tastes and different values across the global markets to get some really interesting ideas for new products. The third part is how to manage consumers’ perceptions of the relaxation lifestyle because when you see me drinking Tranquini, I want you to think that here is some guy who is living an active, positive and relaxed life style that you would like to join. For us this is an area where we are doing a lot of work to build the brand and the Tranquini lifestyle image.

    FJF: What future trends do predict for the fruit juice industry?

    AE: I am a very big believer in the fruit juice category. I have worked a great deal in this side of the business in my time especially with Coca Cola on fruit juices and a lot of big fruit juice brands. Consumers are telling us more and more now that they want to go into this ‘natural’ direction and I think there is nothing better than for the juice industry to address this need through their fruit juice products.

    The issue I think is that the fruit juice industry really needs to listen more to consumers. To listen to their concerns about healthy, less sugary drinks and to react to that with new and more health based products. Of course, there is the orange juice commodity and the apple juice commodity which will always continue to be very big, but I think that the fruit juices are in my view missing out on the potential when it comes to innovation and to add value. I believe that for the more modern and more consumer connecting brands there is a huge opportunity and in a couple of years this will be the way to bring real growth into the fruit juice market

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 16 Nov
    The fruit juice industry convenes in Antwerp for another successful Summit

    The fruit juice industry convenes in Antwerp for another successful Summit

    For the fifth year running the Juice Summit brought together representatives of the global fruit juice industry in Antwerp, delivering yet another stimulating and topical conference.

    The Juice Summit has quickly built a reputation for providing the essential international forum for the juice industry to meet and discuss and learn about the issues of the day. The 2017 Summit was no exception. High calibre speakers from across the European and international fruit juice sector shared their vision of the future for the fruit juice industry, covering a wide range of topics of concern and interest to the delegates. These included a detailed session on the dynamics of the global fruit juice market, the effect of digitalisation on the industry and the ever-present topic of Brexit.

    Here Fruit Juice Focus takes a brief look at a selection of the sessions from the two days.

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR): an importers perspective  

    More and more companies across all industry sectors worldwide are introducing CSR strategies. The juice sector is no different and Don Giampetro, iTi Tropicals Vice President for innovation and quality presentation ran a session at the CSR stream at the Summit, taking the audience through the definition and history of CSR with examples and how iTi Tropicals were handling their CSR programme. Don kicked off with a definition of CSR: a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. The component parts of a CSR programme cover the environment, philanthropy, ethical labour practise and volunteering. Did the audience know that 91% of companies consider CSR when making purchasing decisions? Case studies revealed disturbing facts that highlight the need for a cogent CSR strategy in companies. For instance in one working environment case study employees were drinking unsanitary water, some were sexually harassed, some were earning 60% of the legal minimum wage and some were exposed to toxic pesticides. The list went on. The Washington Post had reported back in 2015 that ‘tethered monkeys were bred and trained – often with punishment to harvest coconuts’.

    Don explained how important it was that the ‘monkey’s harvesting coconuts’ piece from the Post was addressed by iTi Tropicals and he presented a copy of a statement from one of their processors that is sent to all customers as reassurance and proof that iTi’s processor base do not participate in such a practice. The iTi processor statement read: ‘To Whom It May Concern, We do hereby guarantee that The Sambu Group does not use any animals including monkeys in the harvesting of coconuts from its plantations for all coconut products we manufacture. All harvesting, planting and maintenance of the coconut plantations use human labour.’

    Mr Giampetro took us through iTi’s CSR commitments as an example of what needs to be done. This included education programmes for farmers to optimise agricultural practices, the creation and treatment of wastewater ponds, subsidised health plans, annual donations to local communities, help to build schools and provide educational equipment and funding life-saving medical treatments. iTi also required that its processors had, amongst other things, no child labour or slavery and no bribery and corruption and that they adhered to the iTi code of conduct.

    Social Audits are becoming more and more critical and important, Don added, in providing proof and details that proper practices are being implemented and documented.  The Social Audits show and prove that things are actually being done – it is not just talk.

    Juice Summit 2017 CSR Stream at Hilton Hotel in Antwerp. Photo: Erik Luntang

    Juice Summit 2017 CSR Stream at Hilton Hotel in Antwerp. Photo: Erik Luntang

     A history of success in supporting the Brazilian citrus growers (CSR) 

    Antonio Juliano Ayres, General Manager at Fundecitrus, reminded the audience just how large the Brazilian citrus industry is within global citrus production. There are 140 citrus producing countries in the world of which 70% of the total production is concentrated in China, Brazil, US and Mediterranean countries with Brazil being the main orange juice producer. Within Brazil, Sao Paulo state is the centre of OJ production and boasts the best soil, good ports and roads, history of research and industry knowledge. Orange juice yields have risen by over 200% in the past 25 years to 970 boxes/hectare, whilst the area of bearing groves per 1000 hectares had decreased by 50% in 20 years.

    Figures from Antonio demonstrated Brazil’s dominance as a global supplier in the orange juice business with Brazil’s share of the world’s total orange production standing at 38% and orange juice at 65%. The country took a 78% share of the world’s international trade in orange juice with domestic consumption at 4% of output compared with 96% for export. All for the period 2016/17.

    Fundecitrus is very active in helping growers in educating and preventing the spread of the HLB disease. Interesting comparisons were made between Sao Paulo and Florida in the US where there was only a 17% incidence of HLB infected trees in Sao Paulo compared with a 90% incidence in Florida. Fundecitrus attribute some of this success in containing the disease to the measures they have introduced including the ’10 commandments against HLB’ which include controlling the vector, eliminating symptomatic trees, new planting systems, working with neighbouring farmers and regional management control. Antonio wrapped up the session by acknowledging the success of Fundecitrus was down to their involvement with all areas of the community from government departments and research institutions to technicians, agronomists, consultants and the growers themselves.

    Dynamics of the global fruit juice market    

    Philip Coverdale of Global Data concentrated on two key areas of interest for the Summit audience, the global performance of juice and nectars and top trends impacting the industry. Global Data’s research revealed that in the EU fruit juices and nectars are declining – down 2.4% against 2015/16. But on the positive side leading brands are realigning themselves to maximise the opportunities that changing consumer trends are bringing to the market and they are concentrating on delivering real value growth. Performance during the period 2015/16 show that by volume chilled juices are on the rise, up 4.8%, and ambient juices are down 4.3%. During the same period not from concentrate volumes have risen by 5.3% with from concentrate falling by 4.9%. The research showed that the premium end of the price spectrum of the market is strongly on the increase with France and the UK showing cumulative annual growth rates (CAGR) increasing by 14.2% and 10.3% respectively for the 2014/16 period.

    Moving onto trends the report made some interesting observations. Using the terms raw, clean and pure on your packaging is a must if you want to appeal to consumers purchasing soft drinks in todays’ health conscious markets noted Philip. The term ‘cold’ also creates a feeling of a more natural product as in cold pressed juices. The research highlighted the fact that 76% of consumers were more likely to purchase drinks that were good for digestion and gut health. Alcohol avoidance amongst all age groups, barring the over 65’s, has led to increased demand for more adult soft drinks and marketers should be encouraged to promote their juices as a creditable alternative to alcohol. The session also touched on the point that the inclusion of spicy and savoury flavours in drinks would appeal to the health-conscious buyers especially those containing ginger, cinnamon or turmeric.

    Plant power is the buzz word these days with brands looking to maximise sales by aligning their products with plants and botanicals. In an ever more competitive market brands must capture the shopper’s attention within a split second both online and in the supermarkets with exceptional design and packaging.

    Adding value to juice through digitalisation  

    Tetra Pak’s Giulia Pelliccioni brought the Summit up to date on how digitalisation is adding value to the juice market. According to Giulia, the research firm Kantar TNS tells us that there are now 3.6 billion people worldwide who are deemed as being part of the connected community. Of these, 58% engage with brands online, 48% share opinions about brands and products on social media and 38% buy soft drinks online. Within this large group of connected consumers, “Leaders“ and “Super Leaders” are the most active on social media with the most influence and engagement with brands. It’s all about reaching and engaging with the ‘Leaders’ and ‘Super Leaders’ and brands recruiting these online influencers to promote or share their products are seeing increased web traffic, social media chatter, YouTube viewings and sales. Juices and beverages are the most searched for category when Super Leaders are interacting with food and drinks brands online. Giulia explained that for the consumer, the traditional customer journey is moving away from a linear model to a new ‘distributed value network’ where, because of social media and online interaction with the brand at every stage in the lifecycle, the consumer is central to all aspects of the route from raw materials through to consumption. Whereas before, products would not touch the consumer until marketing campaigns, product placement and subsequent consumption of the juice occurred.

    Packaging in the digital environment is playing an even more important role adding value at every touch-point with the consumer. From research – where a prospective purchaser views the products online and the visual presentation plays a key role in getting the order – to unwrapping and consumption, which can be an even more pleasurable experience when the packaging is innovative and reinforces the consumers view of themselves, through to sharing this satisfaction with online communities.

    Brexit impact   

    Francoise Sonneville from Rabobank’s Food and Agri Research team discussed the impact of Brexit on the food and drink and fruit juice industry concluding that although talks between the UK and the EU were well under way there were no obvious outcomes in view yet. It was felt that in the fruit juice sector, Brazilian orange juice and Chinese apple juice concentrate could end up being either winners or losers depending on the final terms agreed between the UK and these two countries, and Spanish orange juice and Polish apple juice may possibly face damaging tariffs. A final point concluded that possibly redesigning value chains and moving closer to the consumer could reduce the impact of Brexit on buyers and sellers.

    Organic 2017: from roots to suits

    This session from Ronald van Marlen of Toppas Organic Serbia looked at organic food sales in recent times. Research projected that, across selected European countries, organic foods distribution would grow by 10% each year for the next 10 years and the USDA reported that organic food sales has outpaced growth in organic farmland since the late 1990s. Ronald explained that against a backdrop of uncertainty and crisis in the world, changes in the way the organic movement and systems worked are in need of change to meet the demands of the changing social and environmental landscape.

    Ronald went through the four basic principles of organic, namely health, ecology, fairness and care and then illustrated the presentation with details of the top multinationals and their stance on organic and GMO. He looked at which companies own the organic space, distribution and retail and the structure of the seed industry. Ronald then did a profile analysis on who was buying organic – the ‘cultural creatives’, touching on their values such as the love of nature and a deep caring about its destruction, authenticity – ‘walking the talk’ and wanting social transformation and change. Ronald finished with some tips and tricks for the organic sector one of them being aware of developments in pesticides residue.

    The juice supply chain – orange  

    Larissa Popp Abrahão, International relations director of CitrusBR (the Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters), outlined the association’s work and how its membership was primarily the three main citrus producers in Brazil, Citrosuco, Cutrale and LDC Juice (a Louis Dreyfus Company). Following recent research by CitrusBR, Larissa disclosed the latest figures on orange production across the citrus belt in Brazil which showed that although the crop was estimated to be bigger this season (2017/18) it was still not enough to recover four years of lower crops. The current crop should be in the region of 374 million boxes against 245 million boxes for 2016/17. Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ) production in Sao Paulo mirrored this increase with the figure of 1.176 million tonnes (66 brix) expected for 2017/18 – the highest since 2012/13 when production stood at 1.288 million tonnes. Conversely, 2017 saw a very low carry-in of just 107 000 tonnes against highs in 2013 of 766 000 tonnes. Expected carry-in for next season is expected to be in the region of 207 600 tonnes (estimated before the effects of hurricane Irma had been factored in).

    Larissa said that São Paulo is a hub for innovation naming it the Agtech Valley – the Silicon Valley for Agribusiness – with entrepreneurs in Brazil flocking to the area to create start-ups. There followed a review of the situation in Florida where production has decreased more than demand and is unlikely to recover in the mid-term due to hurricane Irma and the ongoing problems with greening disease. Larissa concluded that orange juice is a great product and still has a bright future thanks to companies and industry associations pulling together to face the challenges – the Fruit Juice Matters initiative being a case in point.

    Lemon Trends  

    Introducing his presentation on Lemon Trends, Santiago Martinez highlighted the fact that different customers were moving into lemon with lemon juice now being used more widely in a number of different ways. Citric acid was now being replaced by lemon juice as an acidifier in more and more products with the result that lemon juice is moving to the top of the ingredients list featuring on the front label. Examples of lemon juice being used as an acidifier is juice blended drinks where lemon juice concentrate is being used for tartness and in other products such as yoghurt. In non-alcoholic beverages lemon is considered to add the refreshing character to herbal, vegetable and fruit beverages and stands third behind orange and apple in the table of strongest flavours in non- alcoholic beverages last year.

    Mr Martinez provided us with an overview of world lemon juice supply for the period 2016/17 confirming that Argentina is way ahead at 61% leaving the nearest country, Spain, trailing at just 15%. Santiago pointed out that 75% of Argentina’s fruit harvest goes to industrial use whereas this applies to only 35% across the other main sources of supply and that small fresh fruit exporters are losing ground and share to the big producers. The prediction was that demand for lemon juice will continue to grow and diversify into new usages and that new trends and changing consumer habits call for higher standards of fruit production and juice processing. It is expected concluded Santiago, that only processors that can meet these new standards will be capable of supplying lemon juice for the front label.

    Speakers can be contacted through the AIJN at www.aijn.org

    Pictures courtesy of AIJN/Erik Luntang

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 19 Sep
    THE ITALIAN JOB: THE STORY OF A SICILIAN CITRUS ENTREPRENEUR

    THE ITALIAN JOB: THE STORY OF A SICILIAN CITRUS ENTREPRENEUR

    Sicily has always considered itself to be one of the world’s centres of excellence for citrus with generation upon generation going back many years still involved in the local industry, guaranteeing the quality and the reputation of the regions products.

    No one is more passionate about the Sicilian citrus industry than Walter Ansorge.

    Walter, owner of the multinational Sunprod organisation based in Catania and ranked by the Financial Times (FT) as one of the most successful start- up companies in Europe in the FT’s best performing companies list for the period 2012-2015, has never had it so good. But things have not always been that way.

    In a textbook case study of the entrepreneur fighting to overcome seemingly impossible odds Walter Ansorge has been and continues to be, an inspiration to many. Not just in the fruit juice industry but in Italian business circles too.

    Here Fruit Juice Focus caught up with Walter to find out more about his irresistible story.

    Fruit Juice Focus (FJF): Can you tell us a bit about your personal background in the fruit juice industry and how you came to set up SunProd?

    Walter Ansorge (WA): My first experience of the ups and downs in the fortunes of business where when my parents moved from Germany at the beginning of the nineteen-sixties to Sicily to a place called Termini Imerese where I was born and grew up.  My parents had moved to the area on the understanding that they would be getting involved at the early stages of a seaside tourist resort that was planned for the town. This opportunity failed to materialise with my parents being badly let down by misleading advice from local politicians. The planned resort was sited in a highly industrial area where no tourists would be likely to want to relax on holiday and sunbathe and swim.

    When I was 19 and studying at university I started working part-time for one of the biggest citrus processors in Europe who were based in the town. This gave me a good grounding and understanding of the fruit juice and oils business. In 1994, at the age of 26, I decided to launch my own company in Palermo, in partnership with several Sicilian business colleagues that I knew in the trade. We built our own juice processing factory, grew our customer base and went from strength to strength over the next 15 years becoming one of the leading companies in Sicily.

    In July 2010 disaster struck! We suffered a major big robbery with more than Euro 2 million’s worth of fruit juice, oils and other item stolen from our warehouse. This brought the company near to financial collapse from which it was very difficult to recover. After much soul searching I decided that it was best that I left the company. The robbery was never solved and remained a mystery to this day as to what happened and who was behind it. I was left bankrupt. I had lost all my property and 15 years of hard work were seemingly wasted.

    After a period of some months at home, without any financial possibilities, I received a proposal from friends and colleagues in the industry to start up a new company and begin afresh.  Eager to get back into the business I loved, I decided to accept the proposal to start again and with a total capital of Euro7000 used to found the company and to buy one computer and two air tickets to Catania in Sicily at the edge of the famous Etruscan Plain, we were back in business! Sunprod was born.

    FJF: What challenges have your company faced, how were you able to overcome them and how has the company grown?

    WA: Initially getting credit from the banks and suppliers and purchasing fruit for processing was a major challenge -as it is with any young business. I had a good reputation with growers from when I was running my previous business and with the indirect support of the growers association I was able to get hold of the fruits we needed to get started.

    The growers association supported me from the very beginning with a big credit line permitting me to grow much faster than I would have expected especially as we didn’t have access to any bank credit at the time. This, coupled with our great relationships with other businesses and contacts in the market that we had developed over many years, and the extensive globe-trotting I undertook to meet with prospective customers and business partners, has made a significant contribution to our rate of growth.

    During the first eight month’s trading as a ‘one-man band’ I was able to close the financial year with Euro 2.2 million billing and a small salary from the profits. In 2012 I had increased turnover to Euro 6 million giving me enough financial resource to take the opportunity to hire young graduates here in Catania. The plan being that with a comprehensive internal training programme on the job, working alongside me with my 30 plus years of experience in the industry, we would grow a much stronger and more competitive organisation. This would enable us to undertake more projects and collaborations with cooperatives both inside and outside of Italy.

    This strategy certainly paid off with turnover by 2015 reaching Euro 16 million and by 2016 increasing by a further 25% to a total of Euro 20 million. Sunprod was exporting juices and essences of Sicilian citrus fruits to all the major countries in the world putting us up there among the top companies in Italy in this sector in a very short space of time.

    Today Sunprod works with many cooperatives, has five factories in Italy, an office in India, represents a Bolivian citrus company globally and we act as an exclusive agent in Italy for various Turkish, Greek and Spanish processors for whom we also operate as technical consultants.

    We are continuing to expand the Sunprod operation and are currently working towards opening a new factory in Venezuela and a negotiating a new cooperative deal with companies in Brazil who are looking to enter the Italian market.

    A strong cooperation with a big German essential oil company has enabled Sunprod to increase its shares on the essential oils market which is growing very fast and where Italy still leads the world for quality and bespoke products. The better we can remunerate our growers for the fruits they supply is the key point to guarantee our future and to create a sound trading base.

    Sunprod is also one of the biggest sellers in Italy of organic products, a sector in which we believe and invest in heavily.   We are in cooperation with Sicilian universities, to study and control better the pesticides that are used on the fruit crops as the arguments for not using them are growing ever more intense.

    In this continuous and fast growing environment, our team is working hard to push our development and growth even further, having more than five years’ experience on the front line. We also owe a great deal of our success to our co-packer, our suppliers and our customers, most of whom are friends and not just commercial partners. Transparency and fairness was from the very beginning our flag for a win-to-win business philosophy and it seems it works!!

    FJF: Can you tell us more about the Financial Times recognition of Sunprods success?

    WA: Yes of course. The Financial Times (FT) last year undertook a major study of the best growing companies across Europe – 32 countries in all during the period 2012 to 2015 – selecting  from more than 50.000 companies the best 1000 rated by performance data . We were selected as one of a few in Italy and the only one in south Italy. With the unemployment rate in this region standing at around 60% we had made impressive strides by creating in just a few years more than 15 new highly specialized jobs and more and more indirect jobs that work with and for us.  We were ranked in this FT list, in Food & Beverage, as number 33 in Europe, eighth in Italy and first in South Italy.

    This gave me a personal high. I was so proud.  This recognition has given us the incentive to go on and on and on. And I would thank all of those who believed in us and believed in my dream despite the setbacks and bad news days that we encountered in those early times

    FJF: What about the future for the Sicilian citrus industry, and what about your future?

    WA: Sicily and the regions agricultural products still have a very high image in the world and we at Sunprod do our very best to reinforce this view.  Sicilian citrus is still in our opinion the best in the world and all the factories here – although they are my competitors – are doing a great job professionally, backed up with experience developed over many generations in the business. There will be always a place in the citrus sector for Italian products, even if other countries are bigger with much lower costs. Quality is something that has to be paid for and many of our customers in the food industries understand this.

    I don’t regret the years of hard work, and still today find myself working a 16 hour day which is quite normal for me. Life gave me a second chance and I grasped the opportunity and am grateful for it.

    I am still travelling the globe doing deals, working the markets and promoting the Sunprod brand and collaborations. And I’m still loving it!

    By Caroline Calder Features
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