Features

  • 11 Sep
    FCOJ – Outlook – Jack Scoville’s latest report

    FCOJ – Outlook – Jack Scoville’s latest report

    FCOJ Autumn report

    Price action in FCOJ has been generally positive with higher prices seen over the last couple of months.  It is mostly a weather related rally, with damage to fruit being seen in exporter countries around the world.   Conditions have generally been good in Florida for harvest and fruit development, but that is about the only place where generally good conditions are reported.  The market is on edge even with the good current conditions as the state is in the hurricane season and the season is approaching its peak.  Florida has been lucky so far.  It has avoided the storms that have moved into the Gulf.  People and agriculture farther west in the Louisiana area have not been nearly as fortunate as there has been widespread damage there.  But Florida has gotten by and has just been brushed by a minor system that brought a decent amount of rain, but no big winds and not really all that much heavy rain to citrus groves.  The season will soon reach its peak and then the chances for a deadly and damaging storm will be much less.

    Brazil has not been so lucky with the weather.  The country suffered from a freeze event that hurt many crops.  Coffee was damaged as were winter grains crops like the winter corn and winter wheat.  Citrus was also severely damaged and a lot of fruit loss is suspected.     The damage to the citrus crop is big news for international buyers.  Brazil is the largest exporter of FCOJ in the world so the big loss of oranges will hurt its international trade and will raise prices generally around the globe.  Europe will be very hard hit as Europe has imported a lot from Brazil over the last several years but might not be able to get as much juice and will be paying higher prices for the juice it does get as the year moves on.  Brazil has also been an exporter to the US so prices will be creeping higher there as well.

    Florida can supply wheat missing from imports from Brazil, but will also have to service the European demand so demand for FCOJ from Florida could be very high and prices might go too high for the US market.  People here and in Europe might turn more to vitamins to cover the losses in the FCOJ market supply.

    Mexico would be able to help offset the losses from Brazil but the country has had weather problems of its own.  Northern growing areas have been in drought this year and production has suffered.  Central and southern Mexico are in generally good condition but the drought in the north has cut the overall production back at least a little bit.  This will impact Mexico’s ability to export at a time when everyone will be looking for FCOJ.  So, the outlook for higher prices remains intact for now and New York futures traders will be looking to extend buying in the market on any price setbacks.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 11 Sep
    Protein-enriched juice drinks – the next big beverage trend?

    Protein-enriched juice drinks – the next big beverage trend?

    Protein

    What if you could give consumers the same, refreshing experience of a morning glass of juice while also helping them squeeze in the many health benefits of protein, too? Here Joe Katterfield, Sales Development Manager, Health & Performance Nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients, explains why protein and juice are perfect partners.

     

    ‘Kitchen Medicine’ and the rise of functional beverages

    Arla Foods Ingredients recently worked with Health Focus International on a global consumer study to identify the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way we eat and shop for health. One of the trends it highlighted was ‘kitchen medicine’ – a heightened interest in nutrition and an increased willingness to pay a premium for functional health through diet.

    The proportion of people globally opting for foods and beverages that provide protective, preventative health benefits grew to 17% by October 2020, up from 12% at the start of the year, while those choosing products for specific medicinal purposes grew from 9% to 12% over the same period. The number of people taking vitamins, minerals and supplements once a week or more for general health also grew, from 45% to 62%. The study also found that consumers are willing to pay up to 10% more for foods and beverages which provide immunity benefits.[1]

    Among the categories to benefit from this trend are fortified and functional beverages, the global market for which is forecast to grow to USD 125 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 5.1%.[2]

    The mainstreaming of protein

    While the past year and a half has of course seen surging demand for immune health benefits, over the longer term, there has been another big nutrition story. Protein-fortified products used to be primarily the concern of the sports nutrition sector, but have gone on to achieve huge popularity with mainstream consumers. This has happened for several reasons – a growing body of scientific evidence for protein’s health benefits (in areas like satiety, weight loss and muscle growth), positive media coverage, and high-protein diets like keto and paleo.

    The focus on consuming the right amount of protein has never been higher and consumers are now used to seeing high-protein versions of their favourite products. This includes the beverage category, where high-protein and source of protein claims increased by 8.6% between 2015 and 2020.[3]

    Protein – reinforcing juice’s feel-good reputation

    Juices of course have a traditional association with wellness. They can be an ideal way to replenish the body’s sugar reserves, while delivering vitamins, minerals and the many other healthy ingredients in fruit and vegetables.

    However, media headlines about the effects of excessive consumption on dental health and diabetes risk have increased consumer caution around high-sugar choices, leaving manufacturers looking for new ways to keep juice’s feel-good reputation alive and well. This is creating new demand for innovative functional beverages, and protein-enriched juice drinks represent a particularly exciting opportunity in the sector. Like juices, protein has a powerful association with health, and unlike some beverage ingredients, it doesn’t set alarm bells ringing – in fact it’s likely to increase appeal.

    Overcoming issues with taste and mouthfeel

    The demand for high-protein products more mainstream consumer groups has increased the importance of delivering great taste and mouthfeel.  As a result, lot of our R&D is now focused on helping manufacturers overcome common challenges relating to the taste, texture and mouthfeel of protein, which can limit its commercial appeal.

    One of our solutions in particular is the perfect way to bring the benefits of protein to juice drinks. Lacprodan ISO.Clear is a whey protein isolate developed for the fortification of functional beverages without cloudiness, graininess or off-taste. It has a protein content of 90%, offers high heat stability and is clear in solution, making it suitable for pasteurized or UHT processed juice drinks.

    To showcase its potential, we recently launched a new protein-enriched juice drink concept. It shows how manufacturers can use Lacprodan ISO.Clear to deliver the benefits of whey protein isolate in a refreshing, great-tasting juice drink format with no added sugar. It demonstrates how juice drinks fortified with Lacprodan ISO.Clear can be positioned for a variety of markets, for example as a breakfast offering, a post-workout recovery drink, or a beverage for older consumers and medical patients who need extra protein.

    Juices containing Lacprodan ISO. Clear taste exactly the way juice drinks should, but with the benefit of high-quality, natural whey protein isolate. It’s also easy to add to existing recipes and works well with almost all juice types, including clear juice drinks. We’ve thoroughly tested these combinations with the commonly used production equipment and parameters used for juice manufacturing to ensure easy implementation into production set-up. Furthermore, the addition of protein to juice drinks can be further enhanced with other health-promoting ingredients such as vitamins, minerals and probiotics.

    A new spin on an established favourite

    In short, protein can be the perfect way to polish the health halo of juice drinks. It’s also a great strategy for differentiating products, especially in a market where novel functional benefits are increasingly sought by health-conscious consumers. And with ingredients like Lacprodan ISO.Clear it’s now possible to put a new spin on an established consumer favourite without compromising on taste.

    Arla Foods

    [1] Covid-19 data was collected by Health Focus International in October 2020 with approximately 500 respondents per country. The study covered USA, Brazil, China, UK, Spain and Germany.

    [2] Euromonitor International, 2020

    [3] Innova Database, 2020

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 11 Sep
    Sugar reduction – Embracing the challenges

    Sugar reduction – Embracing the challenges

    Today’s consumers want a life that is healthier for themselves and the environment, and this journey often starts with food and beverages. Coralie Garcia Perrin, Global Marketing Director-Sweet Taste, Kerry reports for FJF

    According to Kerry’s ConsumerFirst research, 87% of consumers are trying to reduce their sugar consumption or consumer sugar in moderation. They are increasingly seeking products with reduced sugar and healthier credentials, challenging manufacturers to respond to demands without sacrificing the tastes consumers have come to love. The pandemic has accelerated this shift in consumer behaviour, with evidence that co-morbidities such as obesity and diabetes can lead to more severe COVID-19 outcomes.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines recommend that for the prevention of obesity and tooth decay, adults and children alike must keep their consumption of free sugars to less than 10%of their daily energy intake (equivalent to about a dozen teaspoons of table sugar for adults).

    Taxation to lower sugar

    Meanwhile, some 50 countries or jurisdictions have implemented taxes on sugary drinks to discourage consumption and fight diseases that can be exacerbated by poor diets. Among the latest places to turn to taxation as a means of encouraging healthy habits and fighting obesity-related illness are Spain and Poland, which introduced new sugar taxes in January of 2021.

    Most consumers know that excess sugar intake negatively affects personal and public health. However, an increasing number are becoming aware of the negative environmental impact of sugar. Over 1,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1kg of sugar from sugarcane, emitting -042kg of C02. According to new research from Kerry, 49% of consumers are now considering sustainability when buying food and drink, and 62% want companies to take a position on sustainability.

    Taste challenges

    The creation of low-sugar beverages comes with taste challenges, with consumers demanding that products retain the flavour that they love. It is important for manufactures to get flavour right in order to ensure repeat purchase and foster brand loyalty. Issues around poor mouthfeel, lack of sweetness sensation and increased perceptions of acidity can also impact on the enjoyment of a product.

    Manufacturers can employ a number of solutions to tackle these problems, including the use of natural flavour systems and masking systems to increasing the perception of sweetness through flavour tonalities. Kerry’s Tastesense™ is a natural flavour solution that modifies the sweetness and flavour profile, providing for great taste in sugar-reduced beverages, enabling consumers to enjoy the pleasing taste and mouthfeel delivered by sugar, yet without the negative labelling impact. A recent life cycle analysis (LCA) carried out by Kerry showed that our Tastesense solution delivered a 30% reduction in sugar, saving 840 litres of water per 1kg.

    Appetite for change

    Consumers are actively embracing sugar reduction as a key component of improved nutrition. The global beverage and food industry are making enormous progress in reducing sugar in various products, and these measures are delivering more wholesome products to consumers. However, solutions must also consider the environment – this will help us achieve our goals around health and sustainability together.

     

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 15 Jul
    Juices & nectars: What next for juice: let’s look at the figures

    Juices & nectars: What next for juice: let’s look at the figures

     

    According to data from Zenith Global’s Globaldrinks.com database, global volume sales of fruit juices, nectars and juice drinks (FJNJD) fell by 3.3% in 2020 to 61.5 billion litres, writes Christina Avison, Associate Director – Commercial, Zenith Global

    While worldwide consumption had been growing incrementally pre-pandemic, boosted by positive performance in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, volumes had been falling in Europe and North America in the years to 2019. The significant factors behind waning demand include price, sugar content and lack of consumer enthusiasm despite huge investment into innovations that have failed to create proportional impact.

    Value sales have shown more strength reflecting an increase in average prices thanks to rising premiumisation of the category and stable demand from the hospitality sector. This had been the main route to competing with other liquid refreshment beverages and achieving success in a densely packed competitive marketplace.

    In 2020, there was an overall drop in value worldwide of more than 7%. Retail purchasers of juices opted for larger SKUs and multipacks thanks to reduced shopping trips, bigger basket sizes and to meet the needs of more of the family confined to the home. There were also several months of the year where next to no sales were achieved in the HoReCa channel, and smaller packs designed for on-the-go consumption and convenience purchases also suffered with reduced footfall in major centres across the world due to quarantines, lockdowns and shelter in place guidance.

    Markets where FJNJD are highly popular in convenience and hospitality like Spain and Japan were worst hit by value declines, with any uptick in retail sales unable to make up for losses in HoReCa and on-the-go volumes while typical consumers stayed home and relied instead on fresh fruit and homemade juices.

    Furthermore, with a fall in higher value channels, brands suffered significantly greater losses in markets across North America and both East and West Europe where, despite increases in private label sales in the year, this was not able to offset a decline in the top brands’ value sales in single serve packaging.

    Value sales too are expected to recover more quickly, growing at a stronger CAGR than volume at around 5% per annum to 2025.

    Pandemic panic

    It is well documented that when flu season hits, orange juice consumption spikes. With the threat of a far worse virus in 2020, demand for juice rocketed – the highest peak seen across the review period – especially in markets like the US, Germany and the UK. Juice, with its natural health credentials, is seen as a convenient and simple way to consume nutrients for adults and children alike.

    Immune support became an overnight top priority for consumers fearful of contracting the coronavirus, so healthy and functional juice drinks came more sharply into focus. Shoppers stocked up amid fears of shortages, especially in ambient and long-life SKUs. In the early months of the global pandemic, orange juice prices were boosted significantly by this surge in purchasing and elevated by concerns over supply chain continuity and labour shortages in Florida and Brazil.

    In 2020, Zenith Global observed a rise in the number of juice brands proactively promoting the health benefits of juice consumption to the growing population of health-conscious consumers seeking better-for-you beverages. No more so than in Australia, where it was announced in August 2020 that the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation rejected the Australian government’s proposal to retain its five-star Health Star Rating for 100% juices. Fruit and vegetable juices are now assessed on the same footing as sugar-sweetened beverages including CSDs despite having zero added sugar, with some products now allocated as low as 2.5 stars thanks to high naturally occurring sugar content.

    Sugar crush

    There is still a limited understanding amongst some consumers and lawmakers regarding inherent vs added sugars in juice, yet consumers are easily convinced by claims of sugar reduction. This has undoubtedly been one of the key factors shaping global juice consumption trends and the trigger for falling volumes in a number of the largest world markets.

    Consequently, investment in technology to reduce sugar in juices is gathering pace, with biotechnology company Better Juice recently landing USD8 million in seed round funding. Its enzymatic technology process will be carried out in a new manufacturing plant in Israel which claims to reduce sucrose, fructose and glucose content in fruit juices without reducing the nutritional or prebiotic value by converting these sugars into non-digestive compounds, such as dietary fibres, gluconic acid and sorbitol.

    Another favoured way to reduce fructose is to use vegetables in juice blends. Adding vegetables like carrots or beetroot to juice drinks has also shown to increase a consumer’s identification with healthful messaging.

    Constant evolution, marketing and reformulation continue in the juice category and this was not slowed by the pandemic. In the UK, PepsiCo launched Tropicana Lean in September 2020 with a lower sugar content and market leader Innocent Drinks released Innocent Super Light in March 2021. In the US, Coca-Cola’s Half Naked range performed significantly better in 2020 than Naked’s standard range, with its Naked Protein portfolio also seeing triple digit growth in the year as consumers turned to functional properties.

    Functional juice

    Functionality beyond the natural health benefits of a fruit-full diet is high up on the list for consumers in a mid- and post-pandemic world. Not just supporting general health and wellbeing, juices marketed with added benefits like immune boost, added vitamins and minerals and support for fighting off colds and viruses have been boosting sales in the category. Ingredients with particular health markers like ginger, matcha, spirulina, turmeric, celery and açai resonate with consumers and further highlight the health halo.

    Some of the key launches in the last 18 months include:

    • Granini, Spain: brought out a new range of fortified immune support nectars.
    • Morinaga Milk Industry, Japan: launched Sunkist Super Grape enriched with polyphenols to support gut health and cardiovascular health.
    • Plantly, Australia: released enhanced juicy water ‘Defence’ which includes echinacea extract and high-vitamin C fruits and vegetables like sweet potato, apple and carrot for an immune boosting hit.
    • Innocent, UK: relaunched super smoothies, now containing double the vitamins.
    • So Good So You, USA: introduced two new immune boosting juice shots to its existing range.

    Premium flavours

    The high price of juices and juice drinks relative to other refreshment beverages continues to be one of the key challenges to future growth in the category. However, premium flavours remain a stronger selling point than price with consumers seeking a more sophisticated adult beverage than juices shared with the whole family. Inspiration from cocktails gives a real treat feel to the juice category, especially during lockdowns, with PepsiCo capitalising on this adding new flavours to its Tropicana Premium Drinks line like Pina Colada and Strawberry Kiwi Sunrise.

    While key flavours like orange and apple continue to dominate on a global scale, grape, pineapple, cherry and cranberry have remained steady and less volatile to changes experienced in the last 18 months.

    The return of breakfast

    One of the key reasons cited for stagnating or declining juice sales is the hectic nature of modern life and the change over the last 50 years from a family breakfast sat around the table with a glass of juice to the modern bustle of grab-and-go convenience foods, meal replacement drinks or skipping breakfast altogether.

    However, with more of us staying home in the last year than ever before and rediscovering the simple pleasures of enjoying extra family moments to connect, breakfast – and by extension, juice consumption – may be set to be a positive change that households opt to keep as we move into the new normal.

    Riding this renewed momentum for juice and maintaining new or returning customers gained throughout the pandemic will be key to ensuring future growth. Zenith Global certainly believes this is possible, with a bright horizon forecast for FJNJD for the first time in a long time.

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 15 Jul
    Sustainable Agriculture: Campaigning for safe responsible agriculture

    Sustainable Agriculture: Campaigning for safe responsible agriculture

    Global ingredients manufacturer, Treatt, has joined the Sustainable Agriculture Industry Platform to expand safe and responsible agricultural practices in South America.

    Joining in collaboration with its lemon oil partner FGF TRAPANI, Treatt and FGF TRAPANI will expand SAI Platform’s sustainable best practices into Argentina and Peru through the rest of 2021 and into 2022. As a member of SAI Platform, Treatt will continue to champion good working conditions for employees and promoting responsible and sustainable farming through their extensive global supply partners.

    Much of Treatt’s lemon oil is harvested from FGF TRAPANI’s South American farms, before ending up on global consumer shelves through beverages.

    Commenting on the decision, Craig Landles, Global Lead Citrus Buyer at Treatt, said: “Sustainability has never been such an important factor in how businesses are scrutinised by customers, investors, employees and society as a whole. At Treatt, sustainability is a core focus and we are committed to enhancing our sustainability responsibilities across the Group.

    “Joining the SAI platform is a significant step forward and we are proud to become a member. We will be in a stronger position to share best practice knowledge, as well as embed and implement sustainable practices in our supply chain as a result.”

    Founded in 2002, the SAI Platform provides a pre-competitive environment to address global sustainability challenges facing food production today, and in the years ahead. With a network of over 90 members around the world, SAI Platform is developing the practice of sustainable agricultural tools and principles that create secure and strong agricultural supply chains, to protect the earth’s resources.

    The focus is member driven and SAI Platform meet their needs through Beef, Dairy and Crops Working Groups as well as its measurement and verification tool the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) and data collecting tool Spotlight. By leading the field to sustainable practices, SAI Platform delivers value to its members, farmers, their communities and consumers.

    Mr Landles added: “Treatt and FGF TRAPANI have the perfect partnership to support their customers’ sustainability requirements. We can instil best farm practice to others – it is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference for the right moral reasons. It is something Treatt is very passionate about as a business and we are very proud to be so.”

    To find out more about Treatt’s sustainable methods, go to https://www.treatt.com/sustainability

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 15 Jul
    Juice power: How to convert your drink into a retail product

    Juice power: How to convert your drink into a retail product

    Why your family food or drink recipe can’t be sold in the shops, Richard Horwell, marketing and branding specialist, Brand Relations, provides some insight.

    There are no rules about where a business idea can be born, and some of the best begin in a kitchen. We recently developed a healthy soft drink based on stinging nettles. The recipe was one that had been in the founder’s family for generations. It was originally used as a cure-all and detox, and now it has been reimagined as a refreshing summer drink. Whether a recipe has been handed down through the years, or adapted from a drink experienced while travelling, or created from scratch (by design or by accident), it’s likely to need quite a few changes before it becomes a marketable reality. And no matter how wonderful the recipe, there are a number of steps to take on the journey from kitchen to high street.

    Step one: It is so important to understand before you take on any business venture that the production of your product cannot be just a few drinks here and there; it’s either all or nothing. The best idea is to take your recipe to an experienced manufacturer (co-packer). A co-packer will be looking at volume and unless you can give them confidence this project will grow and fast, then very few will consider taking it on.  They also need to believe in your product as much as you do, so before you speak to them make sure your company and brand look professional, many co-packers won’t even respond to Hotmail or Gmail addresses, so get brand ready.

    Another thing to remember is that many co-packers will only take on a product if it is going to be produced in its thousands (not hundreds). To ensure that this can be done correctly and safely, with a reasonable shelf life and all the right information on the packaging, you need to get a professional recipe developer on board to help and guide you.

    Step two: Your product could be the most delicious product in the world, sell amazingly with your friends, family and local farmer’s market, but the hardest pill many of my clients have to swallow is that the recipe will simply not taste the same when produced on a massive scale.

    Your recipe at home has the option to be filled with the most expensive good quality fresh ingredients which provide the best end result, but if you want to mass produce then you may have to change ingredients to ensure the product isn’t ridiculously expensive and can be mass produced cost effectively. The most important thing to consider is that your ingredients need to have a longer shelf life to cope with the route to market, whether this is via wholesalers and physical retailers or mail order. New products can spend far longer sitting on the shelf than established brands so ensure you have that shelf life.

    You also need to look out for allergens such as milk or peanuts as many co-packers will refuse to fill your product due to the process of informing every client of the potential exposure. But more importantly you also need to make all allergens VERY clear to consumers. Check out the top 14 allergens (https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/food-allergy-and-intolerance), and wherever possible remove them. If not, ensure you find a co-packer that can cope with the allergens, and that your packaging makes them clear.

    Novel Foods is another one to look out for; beware of ingredients that may be legal in other countries but not necessarily in the UK. Some products sold as supplements can’t be sold for mass consumption in food and drink. For this, check the Novel Foods website: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/regulated-products/novel-foods-guidance.

    Step three: Consider the shelf life of your product. Remember new brands move slowly, no matter how good they are. So, you need to factor this in.

    While really long shelf-life products are not viewed as healthy, so are less popular at the moment, it is important to remember that, generally, the longer the shelf life the better. As a new product your initial movement into the market will be slow until you get some decent listings under your belt. Often, the only other way to retain the shelf life is to put preservatives in your product, however, many wholesalers and retailers refuse to accept this as part of their range. So, avoid this, if at all possible.

    So, when developing your recipe, you must take into consideration whether your product can be stored for a long period of time, preferably at ambient temperatures, or if necessary, chilled.  You then need to adapt your recipe to ensure it will taste just as good at the end of its shelf life as it did at the beginning.

    Step Four: Getting your product’s packaging right is of primary importance and it’s a process many new start-ups overlook.  Your packaging needs to be adaptable: what worked at a farmers’ market won’t necessarily work in a major retail outlet. The packaging needs to be sturdy and protect the product, whether it is stacked on pallets, manhandled by the wholesalers, shelf-stackers, or mail order fulfilment companies, and delivered by couriers or postal workers.  It must remain in pristine condition – preferably with a minimal amount of plastic included in the packaging.

    It is important to understand the best materials to pack your product in. Plastic is lightweight and durable, but currently very unpopular due to environmental reasons. Glass is more sustainable, however many wholesale buyers will not consider it due to its weight and chance of breaking in transit. So, you need packaging appropriate to the product, sturdy and protective, minimal environmental impact, easily recycled and preferably not too heavy. It’s a lot to ask.

    Step Five: Communicating with your target consumer is essential if you are to sell your product. However, different platforms need different approaches. What worked at the farmers’ market will not work in-store. And often what works in-store won’t also work online. So, you need to create messaging that suits the audience and the platform.

    You need to make your target consumer understand what you are about and why you are preferable to the competition. Today, consumers don’t just switch for price; they want to understand the benefits of your brand and they want that information and understanding FAST. Think about why your consumers would pick up your brand and then try to communicate that on the packaging.  Your brand name will NOT sell your start-up product, so don’t cover your packaging in a fancy logo and colourful designs. Instead, aim to educate your target consumer so they will understand what they will (and won’t) get from the product.

    Step Six: Remember that even once all the steps above have been completed, you’ll still need to get safety certification, such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) or SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approved) before anyone will even entertain stocking your product. So, this must be factored into each step as well. As this will lie with the manufacturer, make certain they have these relevant certifications or are BRC (British Retail Consortium) certified.

    Research

    But before all of that, do your research. Start by looking online and visiting target stores. What’s the competition? Is there anything similar in the market either in the UK or internationally? How is it selling? How is the messaging handled? Knowledge is strength and the more knowledge you have the stronger your chances of breaking into the market and making your idea fly.

    Richard Horwell is the owner of Brand Relations, a specialist food and drink marketing and branding company based in London. Over the last 13 years, Brand Relations has been behind the launch and development of over 100 brands in the UK. Richard has also built up and sold companies of his own in the Food and Beverage sector. He has over 30 years’ experience in marketing FMCG brands around the world, having lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australia and the Middle East. www.brandrelations.co.uk

     

     

     

     

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 15 Jul
    Agronomy: How SVZ harnesses agronomy to ensure nutritious, delicious fruit ingredients

    Agronomy: How SVZ harnesses agronomy to ensure nutritious, delicious fruit ingredients

    With governments and health organisations shining a spotlight on fruit and vegetable consumption as a central part of a healthy lifestyle, consumers around the world are searching their supermarket aisles for products that can help them integrate vitamins, minerals and fibre easily into their diets.

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus on nutrient-rich, natural produce has only intensified, and manufacturers are increasingly incorporating fruit ingredients into their fruit juices, smoothies, yoghurts and baked foods. Producing consistently high-quality, tasty fruit ingredients requires expertise, however, and a deep understanding of agronomy.

    The very foundation of fruit production, agronomy is an exact science that allows ingredient suppliers to provide the best fruit and vegetable varieties in relation to growing conditions, customer requirements and processing needs. As a global fruit ingredient supplier, SVZ has a team of dedicated expert agronomists working in the fields year-round, ensuring that every fruit that passes along the supply chain meets the exact expectations of both manufacturer and consumer.

    On demand

    SVZ’s expert agronomy team was created in 2006, following an influx in special requests from customers. It was no longer the case that customers just wanted tasty purees, juices and NFCs – they now also wanted specific nutrients incorporated, particular colours and tastes, as well as safety credentials. “Take baby food for example,” says Anna Sereda, Corporate Agronomist at SVZ. “This application requires a strict quality grade to ensure that the final product is both safe and highly nutritional – and so the expertise of agronomists is required from the very start.”

    The role of SVZ’s team of agronomists is diverse and evolving. Involved in guiding and supporting farmers from seed selection to harvesting, ensuring their compliance with specific credentials, agronomists need to be available to support and guide farmers at any time of the day or night. Wherever customers are in the world, be it in America, Europe or Asia, there are different regulations required for fruit ingredients – and agronomists enable these expectations to be met by working closely with farmers. Plus, they are also heavily involved with the P&PD (‘Process & Product Development’) team, who focus on new ingredient development and special customer requests, as agronomists have an important role in making their plans materialise.

    Latest developments

    “We are the link between farmers and the customers,” says Anna. “Whenever a new customer request comes in, we are the ones who are in the field, monitoring, observing and reporting, to ensure that their wishes are made a reality.” Such requests vary dramatically, from ensuring specific levels of a nutrient to changing the appearance of an ingredient. “For example, we have received requests from customers who are looking to alter the colour of vegetable ingredients for drink applications. Via several rounds of testing and modelling, our agronomy team can ensure that specific pigments are present in a vegetable to generate the required hue. This is exciting, because these colour varieties are being created in a 100% natural way, without the need for artificial colourings or additives.”

    When the agronomy team isn’t looking at special customer requests, they’re harnessing science to ensure that every ingredient is consistently high-quality – for example, by analysing soil composition. “At SVZ, we also have a huge focus on soil analysis – we go into detail with regard to understanding exactly the composition of soil and how it can be improved to ensure the best possible output,” says Anna. “Based on analyses, we can determine the estimated amount of mineral nitrogen released during the growing season, for example, allowing farmers to then adapt the doses of fertilisers accordingly. Paying close attention to soil status is a practical way to assist growers in optimising their crops and ensuring healthy biodiversity in the fields.”

    Looking ahead

    All scientific fields are constantly changing and evolving, and agronomy is no exception. “One development we are seeing more of is farmers who want to be more specialised,” comments Anna. “In a competitive marketplace, agricultural specialisation is one way to increase volumes and yield, while simultaneously reducing costs. However, this comes with a need for advice and guidance and agronomists are perfectly positioned to offer this.”

    “We’re also seeing a pronounced shift towards organic food worldwide, which is both a massive challenge and opportunity. Consumers are looking for healthier, safer and more wholesome meal options for their families. With concerns over food safety heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, communicating supply chain transparency to audiences is a priority. And organic labels offer meaningful value for customers, representing more ‘natural’ farming. As agronomists, we can help farmers achieve organic status and make the changes they need to be both ethical and environmentally responsible.”

    Amazing agronomy

    As global consumers become more aware of the effect their food and beverage choices have on their health and the planet’s health, sustainable and nutritious fruit ingredients are only going to become more popular. Shifting to more environmentally responsible ways of growing – for example, with reduced reliance on chemical pesticides – can be challenging, and it’s therefore only with the expertise of agronomists that global farmers can make this shift to more ‘greener’ agricultural methods.

    That’s why, for SVZ, agronomy is more than simply an ‘added extra’. It’s a fundamental part of our sustainable approach to agriculture, and we work closely and collaboratively with our farmer partners to ensure that they are guided and supported at every step of the process. For our customers, our approach to agronomy ensures that we can tailor our ingredients to meet their exact requirements – and meet rising consumer demand for more nutritious, tasty and ethical products.

     

    SVZ International B.V. supplies high quality fruit and vegetable ingredients to food and drink manufacturers around the world. Its long heritage in agricultural supply, further supported by the world class facilities of its parent Royal Cosun’s farmer owned co-operative and accredited sustainability initiatives, ensure a consistent, premium quality ingredient supply. With more than 100 years’ experience in the global fruit and vegetable agribusiness, SVZ represents quality leadership throughout the whole supply chain. Its strong partnerships with local growers and production facilities within the world’s finest growing regions ensure SVZ fruit and vegetables are cultivated, harvested and processed to the highest standards.     

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 15 Jul
    Lingonberry juice – functional juices

    Lingonberry juice – functional juices

    A look at the positive effects on hypertension and vascular function from Lingonberry Juice with reference to experimental studies, by Anne Kivimäki, University of Helsinki

    Lingonberries are beautiful red berries growing in the Nordic forest. Their fresh, astringent and bitter taste might give you some facial contortion. Actually, one genetic variant (TAS2R38) regulates the perception of bitterness in berries.  Regardless of strong taste, it is worth of consuming – lingonberries seem to have beneficial effects on health!

    Cardiovascular diseases and diet

    Cardiovascular diseases are major cause of death in all over the world.  Vascular function is impaired in common situations such as hypertension, smoking, hyperlipidemia and diabetes. When blood vessels lose their ability to dilate and constrict normally, there is no space for the blood pumped by the heart and blood pressure increases. As many other diseases, this ‘vascular dysfunction’ is related to low-grade inflammation. Hypertension is cause of disturbances in endogenous systems and unbalanced body homeostasis.

    In the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, lifestyle and healthy diet are important aspects. Treatment of cardiovascular diseases includes lifestyle guidance and appropriate diet in addition to medication. Foods such as berries, fruits, tea and cocoa has been claimed to exert positive effects on cardiovascular health. This positive effect may arise from polyphenols which are secondary metabolites of the plants. About 8000 different polyphenols have been identified and half of them belong to a group classified as flavonoids. Polyphenolic content has seasonal and growth place variability. For example, amount of one type of flavonoid, anthocyanin, is highest in low temperatures.

    Wild berries, e.g.  lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos, V. microcarpum) and cultivated blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) are excellent sources of polyphenols.

    What we studied

    In our studies conducted in the Department of Pharmacology in University of Helsinki we wanted to investigate the effects of cranberry, lingonberry and blackcurrant juices on vascular function and blood pressure in experimental model of hypertension.

    At first, vascular function was studied after 8 weeks consumption of cold-compressed cranberry, lingonberry and blackcurrant juices. Interestingly, in lingonberry treated group vascular dysfunction was totally abolished. Thus, we decided to continue to further studies with lingonberry juice. We wanted to clarify how lingonberry juice affects increased blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats and what are the effects in normotensive rats consuming high-salt diet. High salt intake is one risk of the factors of hypertension. Low-grade inflammation was studied, as it is related to hypertension and vascular dysfunction.

    What we found

    We found that lingonberries have potential. The established high blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats became lowered during an eight-week treatment with lingonberry juice. However, more concentrated lingonberry juice was unable to prevent the strong genetic development of hypertension in young rats. Yet, more concentrated lingonberry juice was able to normalize vascular function of mesenteric arteries in this experimental model.  So it looks like lingonberry juice has the ability to enhance vascular function in this experimental model, but the perfect dose still needs to be established.

    Lingonberry juice also affected positively on inflammatory markers in these experimental models. After lingonberry juice treatment, serum levels of both angiotensin II and alkaline phosphatase were lower than in the control groups.  These are important markers for monitoring inflammation and incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Reduced gene expression of cyclooxygenase 2, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, p-selectin and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 partly indicates possible anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects of the lingonberry juice.

    Possible mechanisms behind these positive effects on hypertension and vascular function may be the inhibition of renin-angiotensin system together with enhanced nitric oxide production. These processes are also targets of antihypertensive drugs.

    Conclusions

    Taken together, a long-term treatment with lingonberry juice lowered blood pressure and improved vascular function in an experimental model of hypertension.  The possible mechanisms of these positive cardiovascular effects are related to important body homeostasis regulator, renin-angiotensin system and enhanced nitric oxide bioavailability. Furthermore, lingonberry possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which may well contribute to its beneficial health effects.

    In addition to fibres and minerals lingonberries contain moderate, but not high amounts of vitamins like C, A, some B-group vitamins. Vitamin E concentration is fairly good, 1.5 mg/100g. The real power of the lingonberries are phenolic compounds, flavonols, anthocyanins, proanthocyanins, quercetin and stilbenes to name a few. Interestingly, lingonberries contains high amounts of resveratrol, which is usually associated with grapes and red wines.

    There is a lack of clinical studies conducted with lingonberries or lingonberry products. Results from these experimental studies cannot be directly extrapolated to humans.  Clinical evidence is essential in order to give any claims of the health benefits. However, it has been shown, that moderate reduction of blood pressure and enhanced vascular function is possible to achieve with polyphenol-rich foods.

    Lingonberries really have the potential for a superfruit!

    References:

    Kivimäki A.          Lingonberry juice, blood pressure, vascular function and inflammatory markers in experimental hypertension.  http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-5631-0

     

     

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 11 May
    Cacao-fruit juice – unlocking the next generation of drinks

    Cacao-fruit juice – unlocking the next generation of drinks

     

     

    The cacaofruit is on the rise and several industries start using this unique fruit for products such as sweet snacks and chocolate. But what is so special about this somehow well-known and at the same time unknown fruit? And what can it do for beverages?

    Everybody knows chocolate and cocoa, but hardly anyone knows where it actually comes from. Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacaofruit. For centuries, the cacaofruit has been harvested for its seeds (beans). Over time, the association with fruit became lost. However, just like an apple or orange, the cacaofruit has its own uniquely fruity taste. About 14 million tonnes of cacaofruits are harvested around the world each year to craft chocolate. Because only its seeds were used, 70% of the fruit was discarded as waste.

    Cabosse Naturals, a brand of chocolate producer Barry Callebaut, decided this had to change and developed an innovative and unprecedented up-cycling supply chain to harness the natural richness of the cacaofruit. So now not only the seeds, but also the rest of the fruit can be used for multiple purposes and interesting applications in beverages.

    Origins of the fruit

    The journey of the cacaofruit starts in the tropical regions around the Equator on farms where the cacaofruit trees grow. Once ripe, the colourful fruits are harvested by hand, cleaned and opened to remove the seeds (beans) from the fresh white pulp.

    Traditionally, the cacaofruit seeds were used for chocolate, meaning that 70% of the fruit was completely discarded. Now, thanks to Cabosse Naturals, the entire fruit is upcycled. The cacaofruit cascara, which accounts for 45% of the complete cacaofruit, is dried and ground into a fine nutritious flour.

    Fruity flavours

    The cacaofruit pulp is quickly pressed into juice to preserve the fresh aromas of the fruit. Afterwards the cacaofruit juice is filtered, gently pasteurized and concentrated to obtain the cacaofruit juice concentrate.

    Time is of essence in this process and that is why the processing of the pulp needs to be done shortly after the opening of the fruit and close to the farms. The pulp and the juice of this exotic fruit are processed into delicious ingredients which surprise with their unique and zesty fruity flavor.

    The cacaofruit pulp has a clean, fresh white colour and a sweet scent of fruity honey.

    With its pleasant zesty, fruity flavour, the cacaofruit pulp has a uniquely refreshing signature taste that brings natural sweetness and delightfully refreshing fruity notes to beverages, but also ice creams and sorbet. It is a very interesting ingredient for smoothies, since it brings a natural thickness into the products and adds both sweetness and a fruity taste.

    The cacaofruit juice is characterized by a unique zesty fruitiness, making it a very refreshing fruit base for a large range of beverages. It has a golden brown colour with a fruity scent and naturally contains magnesium and potassium. The cacaofruit juice is particularly suited for the usage in beverages such as juice mixes to bring a delicious and exotic flavour.

    The third ingredient for beverage applications, the cacaofruit juice concentrate, adds an intense fruity sweetness and a unique signature flavour to drinks, sorbets and ice creams.

    Opportunity

    With its natural sweetness and zesty fruitiness, cacaofruit is also an interesting ingredient for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. Its unique flavor matches well with a wide range of alcoholic beverages and meets the demand for new and exotic flavours.

    Today’s consumers show an increasing interest in health and wellbeing with a desire to live happy, healthy lives. This is particularly important to millennials and centennials, who have distinctive tastes and desires in their food and beverage choices. Their understanding of ‘happiness’ extends beyond themselves and into the world around them. Therefore, food and drinks need to not only be delicious and nutritious, but must also have a positive impact on the planet and its people. Millennials and centennials are making more conscious decisions about the food and beverage choices in their daily life. They want products that are considered to be healthy and that they can feel good about buying.

    With its range of 100% pure cacaofruit ingredients, Cabosse Naturals, unlocks a next generation of food and drinks, that are not only tasty but also nutritious and good for the planet and its people.

    To fully harness the potential of the cacaofruit, Cabosse Naturals teamed up with European B2B-Food-Ingredients Supplier Bösch Boden Spies to promote and supply the European beverage industry with this unique, nutrient rich and exciting upcycled fruit.

    For more information please contact e: dirk.naujoks@BoeschBodenSpies.com
     

    BoeschBodenSpies.com

    By Caroline Calder Features
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