• 12 May
    Immunity – is there a role for 100% fruit juices in supporting immune function?

    Immunity – is there a role for 100% fruit juices in supporting immune function?


    Carrie Ruxton PhD RD, nutrition advisor to Fruit Juice Matters provides some background.


    Bottles of vitamin C supplements are flying off the shelves and there may be an upturn in orange juice sales across Europe, but is there any truth in public and media perceptions that certain vitamins or foods can help in the fight against COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses?

    Certainly, medical teams in China and the US are racing to test high doses of vitamin C in intensive care patients, while health experts in some parts of Europe have suggested wide-spread vitamin D supplementation as a way to bolster the public’s immune systems against COVID-19. Low blood levels of both vitamin C and vitamin D are known to be risk factors for contracting acute respiratory infections, as well as experiencing worse symptoms.

    What is immunity?

    Before we consider how nutrients and specific foods could help support immune function, it’s worth reminding ourselves what the immune system actually comprises since it isn’t like a simple dial that can be turned up or down! Immunity is, in fact, highly complex and involves both the innate and adaptive immune systems which combine to fight off infections and foreign bodies.

    Innate immunity is the ‘quick response’ baseline protection we have from birth that includes our skin, gut environment, and types of immune cells including phagocytes and natural killer cells. Adaptive immunity is slowly learnt in response to new bacteria or viruses, and relies on the actions of T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes which target and destroy bacteria or virus-infected cells in our bodies. It is the adaptive system that generates an immune memory to enable our bodies to recognise specific viruses and bacteria next time they attack.

    One issue with the popular concept of ‘boosting’ immunity is that we actually don’t want this to happen. Like many other body systems, such as blood glucose levels or brain oxygen levels, our immune response works across a tight optimal range. Too low and our sluggish system will not successfully attack and contain pathogens, but too high and we are at risk of developing so-called autoimmune conditions where the body’s overreactive immune response starts to attack normal healthy tissues. Examples of these conditions include type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

    Focus on vitamin C

    A new study published in Nutrients calls for governments and health officials to consider implementing strategies to provide “nutritional support for the immune system” in order to “limit the impact of seasonal and emerging viral infections”.

    For vitamin C, daily intakes of at least 200 mg/day were recommended for healthy individuals increasing to 1–2 g/day for those suffering from respiratory illnesses. The rationale for this advice is that vitamin C supports reduction in the risk, severity and duration of upper and lower respiratory tract infections. In addition, studies show that vitamin C requirements increase during infection.

    According to a free-to-access report by a pharmacist and dietitian, published on the Fruit Juice Matters website, vitamin C has several roles in supporting optimal immunity, such as:

    • Influencing the production of interferon, a protein made by immune cells which can inhibit virus replication including the influenza A virus;
    • Anti-inflammatory activity – inflammation is one of the factors causing symptoms during viral infections, such as a stuffy nose or aches and pains. Vitamin C has been found to reduce lung inflammation caused by viral infection;
    • Acting as a powerful antioxidant which shields immune cells and other cells in the body under attack by the free radicals released during rapid immune response;
    • Supporting normal collagen synthesis (there is an authorised health claim for this in Europe) which is needed to stabilise the cell barriers protecting the respiratory tract, skin and gut from pathogenic bacteria and viruses;
    • Enhancing the activation of T and Natural Killer cells (types of immune cells) and repressing the viral lytic cycle (the stage at which a virus bursts out of the host cell to infect other cells).

    Immune health claims in Europe

    What we can reasonably expect is that living a healthy lifestyle, including avoidance of smoking and excess alcohol, staying within a normal body weight, and eating a balanced nutritious diet, will deliver an immune system that works within the optimal range. This is where immune-supporting nutrients and foods can have a role, as recognised by the European Food Safety Authority which gave a positive opinion on immune health claims for several vitamins and minerals (Table).

    Vitamins and minerals with authorised health claims for contributing to the normal function of the immune system

    Nutrient Key dietary sources
    Vitamin A Dairy foods, oily fish, vegetables
    Folate (vitamin B9) Fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables
    Vitamin B6 Pork, poultry, soya, fish, eggs, wholegrains
    Vitamin B12 Liver, beef, oily fish, fortified cereals, yeast extract
    Vitamin D Oily fish, eggs, red meat, fortified foods
    Iron Red meat, beans, pulses, green leafy vegetables
    Selenium Brazil nuts, tuna, turkey
    Zinc Meat, fish, eggs, cheese


    Where does juice fit in?

    As most people at present don’t take supplements on a regular basis, the immune-supporting nutrients will tend to come from their diets. In the case of vitamin C, this will be from eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, fruit juices and berries which all have a rich vitamin C content as well as providing bioactive substances such as polyphenols and carotenoids which support health.

    Just one glass of orange juice daily can supply 80-100% of the official reference intake for vitamin C. Orange juice is also a source of folate, which has an authorised immune claim, and potassium, which is proven to support normal blood pressure. Most other fruit juices and smoothies will qualify for a ‘rich in’ source for vitamin C and can put this on pack alongside the authorised wording of the health claim “vitamin C contributes to the normal function of the immune system”. Manufacturers should take care not to overstep the legal limits of this wording as claims to ‘boost’, ‘enhance’ or ‘protect’ immune function would not be accepted by regulators.

    Apart from the nutritional composition of 100% fruit juices, which clearly has the potential to make an important contribution to levels of vitamin C, potassium and folate, a daily glass of fruit juice complements fruit and vegetable consumption, which is low across many countries.

    • Surveys show that a third of Europeans don’t eat fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, while only 14% achieve the recommended five servings a day.

    In some countries, such as the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Romania, 100% fruit juice is included in official recommendations to promote fruit consumption.

    In conclusion, while the juice industry should never claim that its products will prevent or protect against COVID and other viral illnesses, it is reasonable to show how drinking a daily glass of 100% juice will boost vitamin C and folate intakes and, through that route, support normal immune function.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 12 May
    Covid-19  How our readers respond to crisis all over the world

    Covid-19 How our readers respond to crisis all over the world


    We asked readers to let us know what’s happening in their region, how their business and people are being affected by the current virus crisis. Thank you, to all those who responded.  Please keep your comments coming.

    ALGERIA – Slim Othmani, President of  NCA-Rouiba in Algeria

    We have almost stopped our production lines and have reduced the distribution coverage (may geographical areas non accessible). We couldn’t afford credit to our customers. It was almost impossible for us to pay our suppliers and also our banks.

    Many of our suppliers have put on hold their operations. We are trying to work with the local drink producers association to get the right support from the government to overcome all the issues we are facing.

    Due to the perception that juice is a healthy product, most probably we will witness a boom in juice consumption mainly fresh or NFC when this is all over. Are we going to be able to outsource all the fruits needed to support this? Does this mean major changes in production equipment? Is it the end of recipes with preservative added?

    We will witness fast digitalisation and robotization of all the supply chain and many boring jobs will most probably disappear as a result of this crisis.


    INDONESIA – Yos Putra Surya, Senior Account Manager, PT Great Giant Pineapple

    Since second half last year, the processed pineapple market has already started to experience an upward trend mainly due to shortage of supply in Thailand, the main country producer.  However, for pineapple juice concentrate, there are some inventories available in Europe from preceding over supply period, which hold the market price from increasing sharply like what has happened in the canned pineapple market.

    The covid-19 outbreak in Europe, has brought additional pineapple juice demand and thus reduced those inventories considerably. As a result, the present market price has climbed to USD 2,300-2,400/MT FOB for PJC 60brix. Since forecasted supply for processed pineapple will remain short, at least, till next Thai summer crop in 2021. It will be no surprise to see previous historical high market price level repeat itself in the coming months.

    The Ministry of Industry has issued a circular that provides guidelines on how factories should operate during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Circular Letter No. 4/2020 on Factory Operations amidst the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is aimed at supporting industries in continuing their operations with the established healthcare protocols, which include screening workers by measuring their body temperatures and restricting the number of workers in public facilities such as mosques and canteens. In general, our government has taken the necessary steps and measures to contain covid-19 outbreaks. One approach is a limited lockdown to particular region/red zones areas.

    To give strength to the industry longer term, the juice industry needs to reinvent itself and its image as a provider of antioxidants and multivitamin drinks which everyone can benefit from. Aside from traditional juices like apple, orange and pineapple, an innovation of combined fruits and vegetable drinks will be even more attractive for consumers who look for healthier and a less sweet drink.

    For the future – since this pandemic period will last for months, so consumers are forced to be more selective in their spending and eventually look for basic need items especially the ones which can offer longer shelf life, and juice is among their options during this period of time. The consumers’ memory of current pandemic threats, their buying & consumption behaviour during this period of time will have profound influence to their future buying selection/choices, not only current generation but few generations to come.


    US – Lukas Oest, Head of Global Marketing Development, Florida Worldwide Citrus

    For Florida Worldwide Citrus, one of the biggest changes the current virus has made to our business is related to our operations and company culture. We are a family-owned operation that prides itself on efficient and high-quality service. To continue providing such service in the midst of this pandemic, we have split our team into two shifts with rotating days in the office and working remotely. We quickly had to adapt to new operational procedures and channels of communication. It has been a welcomed challenge for us.

    Located in Southwest Florida, our company is grateful for the community resources we have available to us including the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, local chambers of commerce and the Small Business Development Centre.  All have done a fantastic job communicating available help to businesses like ours.


    SOUTH AFRICA – Anton Reinecke, MD, Ceres Fruit Processors (Pty) Ltd

    Fortunately we are allowed to continue working under our lockdown rules due to being an essential food service. The biggest impact is on deliveries to cider manufacturers, which have been hugely delayed, because no alcohol sales are allowed in SA during lockdown. Also, banks are more cautious, so this may affect facilities. I am unsure of the impact of lockdown on consumer behaviour.  Less socializing – less alcohol, but perhaps juice consumption will increase in general as a result.


    SWITZERLAND – Frank Hofer, CEO Frutco

    It is indeed a very difficult time. Around our Frutco Team, we see many SMEs suffering. All the businesses which are not primary care are closed with tremendous consequences for the staff and owners. The Swiss Government is helping where they can, but even with this help, it is tough for the economy. Nearly 30% of the employed people are in short-time work.

    Doubts and uncertainty is gnawing on the souls. We believe that this situation will follow us the whole year until we come back to normal. But then the world has changed.

    Frutco went very well prepared into the crisis. Since end of January we activated the Pandemic Plan and everything was tested and trained again. It is now more than 3 weeks that the whole team is working from home offices. Only 1 person per office building is present to do the work, which cannot be done virtual. We have separated our storage in different warehouses in Holland, so that we will always be able to fulfil our supplies, in case one of the warehouses should get contaminated.

    On the other hand our investment in Latin America got postponed by about a month, due to a shutdown ordered by the Colombian government. Nevertheless, up to now in none of the countries in which we are working any problem with regards to affected workers in the processing or on the farms has occurred. The farms are working normal and people keep the rules of social distancing.

    The food service sector is down a lot. In our case, the food service people are supporting the bulk container business. On the other hand we have seen a huge upturn for these customers who are using our ingredients for health claims.

    Some customers in Italy filled their stocks, to keep the ability to deliver. Not clear until is the question will the supply chains stay stable. We don’t know how the crisis will affect Latin America. Some irregularity of deliveries and late payments are seen but most of the businesses are running more and less normal.

    We had to increase the working capital in order to prolong some payment terms for customers in very much affected regions, in collaboration with the credit insurance company and approved 2nd or 3rd suppliers. We believe that we may keep the budget 2020 as long as the supply chains are up and running. Some containers are short but our team could solve these problems always on time.

    The team is missing the social contacts within Frutco  and the physical contact with suppliers and customers. Today everything goes through Skype.

    At the end of the day, when the crisis is over I don’t believe that there will be a change how the public sees fruit juice beverages. The sugar discussion will come up again. Therefore we are working on solutions which will match this issue and will help to demonstrate the value of a good fruit juice. All our research work stays on track und soon our banana fibres will be ready to enter the market.


    US – Remer Lane, Investments in Juice businesses, M&A, Strategy and Sustainability Solutions

    My business has improved. While socializing is down, the companies with whom I deal are looking for improved financial conditions; supply chain solutions for delayed or alternative suppliers; considerations for new technologies that address sustainability, AI and automation.

    In regards to the virus, we have accommodated the requests to reduce movement and thus infections. That has worked and we have no issues with government activities to-date.

    Where might you see the juice industry in 12 months’ time? The juice industry has an opportunity now to increase its profile as providing the right nutrition at the right time. Sugar consumption seems to be off the radar and vitamin intake more important. We need to build on that.  Increased consumption of vitamin rich 100% juices especially OJ is likely.

    We need to launch a marketing campaign immediately to promote the role vitamins supplied by juices play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and giving our bodies the right nutrition to fight virus’.

    US – Steve Cockram, General Manager, Growers Co-op Grape Juice Co

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


    SLOVAKIA – Štefan Gradišek, Head of Purchasing Department, Dana

    Seeing longer delivery dues, higher transport costs. In some cases higher raw material prices and in rare cases also unavailability of material.

    We stopped production for short period of time, in order to reduce threat of virus expansion to the minimum among employees.  From a sales point of view, we had a lack of sales, since all restaurants etc. are closed, and this represents an important part of our business.

    There is some governmental support for producers /employees and looks positive.

    In my opinion, in 12 month things will be more or less on old tracks. Unless there is a resurgence of the virus. I do not really any positive things to say as a result so far.


    US – Carol Plisga, independent consultant to the food and beverage industry

    In my opinion, the juice industry is in the same predicament as all other industries and governments.  As much as we would like to look long term, the future changes daily so right now what matters is fighting front line challenges and embracing immediate needs.

    I’m not a historian but common sense tells me that a spike of any kind is not sustainable and eventually will moderate.  Looming out there for all of us both personal and professional is a recession caused by COVID-19.  How many businesses won’t survive?

    Forecasting is a tool that depends on previous history and future insight.  We have nothing in history to compare as a forecasting tool.  The future for retail and foodservice is unknown.  We can’t expect all countries will come back at the same speed with the same demands on the juice industry.

    We’re in a crucial agricultural period for Southern Hemisphere.  If unable to pick, process and ship – we will see shortages globally.  Does that automatically kill the spike we are seeing now or will the recession kill the spike?  I am looking forward to your report in FJF issue.  We can all learn from our colleagues and your span of clients is far greater than any one of us has, as a single individual or company.


    POLAND – Mateusz Świętanowski
    Concentrates, IQF & Puree Sales Manager / Kierownik Działu Koncentraty, IQF i Przeciery 

    We have seen a large drop in food service channel sales but at the same time increase in retail based sales channel. Unfortunately we cannot estimate if this trend will continue for the next months as we think that that increase is a result of the stock renewal of supermarket channels. Some challenges with finance and insurance companies as they are looking more closely and in more cautious manner in terms of providing finance cover for clients. Most of our team are working from home, utilising all possible platforms of contact with other team members and clients.

    Government prepared a lot of projects for businesses across the country, but the scale and results we will notice in near future. We must focus to keep the business running and cover the cost.

    As for 12 months’ time – too far to tell now. Let’s not plan too much. Just look at what is happening now and how irrelevant all planning may be. I do however think high vitamin content in juices as well as other minerals might turn out to be substantial factor for rise in consumption. Add to that long shelf life and protection of product from potential contamination as opposed to fresh fruits and vegetables.

    ISRAEL – Ido Frank, Director of Business Development, Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, Trisun

    So far the biggest change we see is increased difficulty in shipping goods (and also samples to some countries). A few countries have closed down so it is also becoming more difficult to get bookings for containers to move goods.


    POLAND – Andrii Humenchuk< Global Sales Specialist, Sambor

    What is the biggest change the current virus has made to our business right now – we switched to shorter payment terms and delivery spread (3-10 days net or 100% prepayment and delivery spread max till June 2020).
    We have major factors at the moment in Poland: a) shortage of labour as many seasonal workers left the country b) lack of precipitation/high temperature in May forecast. It may result in higher labour cost and lack of apples for processing.
    I think long term we may expect the share of pure juices will increase at the expense of energy/sport drinks.


    PAKISTAN – Various sources

    1.0 The Scope of the Crisis

    As has been widely recognised globally, the current crisis, in addition to its tragic human dimension, represents an economic shock, on a magnitude which has not been seen since the Second World War. In the case of the economy of Pakistan, which is between 30 & 35 in the world GDP ranking, both its linkage to the global economy, as well as its relative  isolation, are kept in view when assessing international trends.

    The major linkage is in the numbers of workers from this country in the Gulf, which can be estimated at over 5 million, followed by those in the UK/ USA/ Europe. The financial implication is the volume of remittances to this country, which actually constitute the biggest single source of foreign currency, and, on a micro level, which are mostly utilised for personal consumption by the recipient families.

    2.0 Implications for the Fruit Juice Sector

    Actually the sector may be considered as consisting of two sub-sectors:

    1. i) The production of industrial products such as concentrates and purees: these are currently used mainly for consumer juices for local sale, with some proportion for the export market. The availability of disposable income for packed fruit juices will directly impact the manufacturers of industrial products. However, since these manufacturers have been making high profits from local sales, with a decline in demand it is possible that they will make more an effort to export, so the reduction in sales to local juice producers may be partially offset by increased export sales, albeit at somewhat lower prices.

    Current exports are no more than 4-5,000 tonnes/year of mango/guava purees, and about 10,000 tonnes/year of mandarin concentrate, so it is conceivable that these levels can be increased by 40 to 50% to offset the decline in local sales, as forecast in ii) below.

    1. ii) The production of consumer juices: in response to the economic contraction expected in the coming future, decline in the volume of consumer juice sales is the likely scenario, since this is not an essential survival item of the grocery basket. The buoyancy in the policies of the multinationals, such as Pepsi/ Coca Cola/ Nestle, as well as that of the leading local brands, towards constantly expanding their fruit juice portfolios, is not realistically expected to be sustained in the immediate future.

    The current consumer juice market in Pakistan, with a range of products in various sizes (200 ml/ 250 ml/ 1 litre) and types (PET/ tetra + similar/ glass) is estimated at between 300 & 500 million litres/ year. Growth has been phenomenal in the last few years, estimated by authoritative sources at reaching 20% annually in some years, powered by increasing disposable incomes/ changes in tastes & lifestyles/ a growing young population and other factors. However, quite clearly, such growth is not expected to happen in the next few years, following the current economic shock.


    FINLAND – Elisa Piesala, Branch Manager, Finnish Food and Drink Industries´ Federation, Helsinki

    In Finland the food sector is considered as a sector critical to the functioning of society.

    Pre-primary education organized in schools and contact teaching for grades 1–3 will continue for the children of parents working in sectors critical to the functioning of society. Other schools and universities are closed. People are asked to stay at home and avoid close contact to others.

    Impact on salesAs elsewhere, the sales in the groceries have increased and the sales in the foodservice have reduced a lot.  Bars and restaurants have been closed since last Saturday (4.4.). Some examples of rough estimations of increases in the groceries: meat + 40 %, dairy products 20-30 %. The highest peak of groceries sales was right after the Finnish government announced of enforcing Emergency Powers Act (on the 16th of March). The retail sector reported that now the situation has evened out, but still people are buying more than in usual situation e.g. bread, meat, tissue paper, canned food, soap and detergents.

    Transportation, logistics, border checksThe Food and Drink Industries’ Federation has not yet been reported of major problems with border checks so far.


    NIGERIA – Anthea Omoregbee, CEO, Zest4Life, Lagos Nigeria 

    We are in a lockdown now so delivery is slow due to no movement, resulting in reduced sales.

    Not seeing support from government in our region as yet.

    For the future I can see more online sales and with the help of vitamin C, which helps with building immune systems, the sales of juices are and will continue to rise.  Hopefully we can play a part in helping to boost immune systems.







    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 12 May
    Egypt –  Region reigns on orange production

    Egypt –  Region reigns on orange production

    Egypt recently announced its status as the world’s largest orange exporter, after citrus farms have been prospering in the North African country over the past few years.

    “Egyptian oranges have reached most of the world’s markets as Egypt now ranks first worldwide in exporting oranges, surpassing Spain that has been in the lead over the past few years,” said Ahmed al-Attar, head of the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine (CAPQ) which belongs to the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture.

    Since the beginning of 2020, Egypt has exported 1.3 million tonnes of oranges amid a growing demand for Egyptian agricultural products, the exports of which have reached 2.2 million tonnes since January despite the global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent statement by CAPQ.

    At one of the farms of Maghrabi Agriculture (MAFA), the largest orchard in Egypt and probably in the world, Samy al-Sayyid, manager of CAPQ exporters service department, was supervising the stages of citrus processing from harvesting until packing and loading for exportation.

    “CAPQ inspectors are present all day at citrus farms for supervision. They are also present at sea, air or land ports to complete exportation procedures without any delay,” the CAPQ official told Xinhua at MAFA’s packhouse.

    Sayyid pointed out that nearly 100,000 tonnes of oranges have been exported to China this year. xinhuanet.com

    By Caroline Calder News
  • 12 May
    US – Companies estimate Covid cost in dollars

    US – Companies estimate Covid cost in dollars

    The chief executives of three large US citrus grower associations estimate ‘the immediate COVID-19 impact to certain varieties of citrus will be over USD200 million.’

    Casey Creamer of California Citrus Mutual, Dale Murden of Texas Citrus Mutual and Mike Sparks of Florida Citrus Mutual offered that economic damage assessment in an April 9 letter to US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The letter was intended to help the USDA put together effective programs funded by the USD2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

    “The citrus industry impacts have varied greatly by region and variety,” the executives wrote. “To date, the biggest challenges we are seeing across the industry are due (to) the shutdown of schools and restaurants. Additional movement in the retail sector (has) not compensated for losses in food service for lemons, grapefruit juice, and most specialty varieties, and it is too early to tell what the net impact will be for orange juice. California provides the nation’s supply of fresh lemons with over half of the production traditionally going to food service. Total weekly movement of lemons has decreased by 30% in volume” since shelter-in-place requirements took effect across the country.

    “Grapefruit and grapefruit juice movement and sales have also come to a dramatic halt since mid-March as schools, restaurants and retail outlets have either closed or severely limited entrance to stores, and buyers are now cancelling orders,” the letter added.

    “While we are projecting significant losses in the USD200 million dollar-range by the end of the season, it is too early for us to fully quantify those losses to USDA,” the executives stated. “It will be important that the program USDA implements allows for growers to access relief when demonstrating economic harm. CitrusIndustry.

    By Caroline Calder News
1 2