• 19 Sep
    CITRUS GREENING: is time running out for the Florida citrus industry? Or is a cure just around the corner?

    CITRUS GREENING: is time running out for the Florida citrus industry? Or is a cure just around the corner?

    Citrus huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease, is one of the most destructive diseases of citrus worldwide. Since its discovery in Florida in 2005, citrus acreage in that state has significantly declined and will continue to do so unless a cure is found – and soon.

    At the forefront of the fight to save the Florida citrus industry from this seemingly incurable disease is Dr Michael Rogers and his team from the Citrus Research and Education Centre (CREC) at the University of Florida.  CREC is the oldest (it celebrates its 100th anniversary in November) and largest off-campus experiment station in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. It is unique among research centres in that it focuses on one commodity – citrus.

    Here Dr Michael Rogers, CREC’s Director, brings Fruit Juice Focus up to date on the background to HLB, the complexities of combatting the disease and how close they are to finding a cure.

    Fruit Juice Focus (FJF): Could you give me some background on greening disease? How it is spread, what the symptoms are and what impact it has on the plants?

    Dr Michael Rogers (MR): Citrus greening disease, also known by its Chinese name Huanglongbing or HLB as it is more generally referred to nowadays, is the worse disease worldwide in citrus production and for good reason. It is the most challenging disease of citrus that we have ever faced, or that anybody has ever faced. It is caused by a bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter and the form we have imported into Florida is Asiaticus. The reason for the Candidatus designation is because this bacterium has never been grown in culture before.  The bacterium is the pathogen that causes the disease and the bacterium moves from plant to plant spread by the insect the Asian Citrus Psyllid – the scientific name being Diaphorina citri.

    The psyllid will move from tree to tree feeding on the leaves and injecting the bacterium into the plants vascular system into what they call the phloem.

    In the same way that humans have arteries and veins, so do plants. These are the phloem and xylem where the phloem moves food and nutrients such as sugar and amino acids from leaves to storage organs and the growing parts of the plant, and the xylem transports water and minerals from roots to aerial parts of the plant. The bacterium gets into the phloem in the plant and eventually it moves down to the root system and will kill off a lot of the root system before you even see any symptoms of the disease above ground.

    The early symptoms that we have seen mimic nutritional deficiencies in a plant which on the face of it suggests that the grower has not done a good job of fertilizing the plant leading to a magnesium or zinc deficiency. That’s what we focused on early on – looking at symptoms that could have just been an issue of poor fertilisation. But in reality those symptoms are a result of the root system not being able to take up the nutrients it needs because of the effects of the disease. And that’s why it’s such a hard disease to manage because you have the root systems dying off below ground and before you even know it the plant is diseased and by the time you start to see the first symptoms and know what’s going on it can be too late.

    FJF: HLB was not discovered in Florida until 2005 – why had the disease not been a problem before?

    MR: We found HLB in Florida in 2005 and the chances are that it had already been here for up to ten years before that. But growers didn’t notice or weren’t looking for it and when they saw the symptoms noted above they probably thought ‘Oh, this is a nutritional issue’, because quite often the first trees that were showing symptoms were along the edges of groves and that’s where trees can typically suffer the worst from nutritional problems. For example fertilizer applications that grower’s use are known to interact with the limestone rock embedded in adjacent roads thus reducing their effectiveness.

    This is what makes HLB such a challenging disease. It’s not like we are growing a row crop such as wheat or corn that you plough under every year and re-plant. We are trying to grow trees long term that are becoming infected and it’s a difficult to identify and the only real control in the past has been cutting out those diseased trees as soon as they become infected. What makes it very difficult is that they can be infected three years or longer before you know that you have a problem.

    FJF: In which country, and when, was the disease first discovered?

    MR: HLB was first discovered in China in the late 1800’s but the first public confirmation in the western hemisphere was in 2004 where it was announced that  Brazil had found HLB. The story goes that they had probably known that there was an issue down there for some while before they finally identified that it was HLB. It was not causing major losses at that stage but definitely spreading undetected.

    This got people’s attention in Florida and we started looking much more closely at what was going on in our own groves and when our state department of plant industries began doing surveys they were now looking specifically for HLB and they eventually found it.

    FJF: To what extent do you think the disease is responsible for the decline in orange production in Florida over the past decade or so?

    The majority of the decline that we have seen in orange production is definitely directly related to HLB. No question. But the waters have been getting muddied a little because in 2004 we had three hurricanes that hit Florida and so most of our production ended up on the ground having been knocked off the trees by the storms.  After that it took a couple of years for our production to try and come back up to where it had been before, so there was this huge drop in 2004 that wasn’t related to HLB. But ironically, shortly after the trees started to recover that’s when we found HLB.

    While the production was coming back post hurricane it never went all the way up to where it had been before because growers were initially trying to cut down trees that had HLB in attempting to stave off the disease.

    And now where we have got stabilised acreage the trees still aren’t producing very well.  As the fruit is getting close to harvest and the trees have had the disease for multiple years the root system can no longer support the fruit load and the fruit begins to drop off the trees before harvest.

    We are looking this year at something in the region of 70 million boxes or less of fruit produced in Florida of round oranges which, when you compare that to over 200 million boxes back in 2002/2003, this is a huge decrease. The majority of this fall in output is directly related to HLB

    FJF: How has the disease been fought in the past and how has this changed over the past decade or so?

    MR: There is a lot of work going on looking for solutions to HLB. A lot of what we have been doing since HLB was first found in Florida in 2005 was really trying to slow down the disease spread, to control the insect that spreads the pathogen. We had a lot of emphasis on psyllid control.

    We also had taken a closer look at our citrus nursery industry because a lot of the spread of HLB occurred by moving infected plant material around the state of Florida.  Our entire citrus nursery industry grows trees outdoors and you had the psyllid come in and feed and infect those unprotected trees which were then moved to groves throughout the state.

    Even more of a problem was the ornamental nursery industry. There is a plant called Orange Jasmine which is a tree that a lot of home owners in Florida plant in the yard. It’s a nice shrub that is easy to care for but it was a host for the psyllid and the pathogen and very common in the nurseries in south Florida where psyllids first became established in the state of Florida.

    When the psyllids first came into Florida its population moved throughout the state very rapidly on the Orange Jasmine plant which was shipped from south Florida to retail outlets such as Walmart, one of the US’s biggest retailers, and many other chain stores. A lot of those stores were selling infected plants that had come from down south containing the psyllid.

    One of the things we did to control the slow-down and spread of HLB was to take our entire citrus nursery industry and put it indoors growing all our nursery plants under screen. This has definitely helped slow down the spread of the disease.

    Growers were also attempting to combat HLB by trying to remove any diseased trees found in their groves.  In an ideal world that is exactly what you would do but the problem is because this disease spreads undetected for a while, by the time the growers had located diseased trees in their groves these trees had probably been infected for two or three years. And as time progressed, more trees became infected and needed to be cut down. We had to abandon the tree removal effort because if you removed all the trees that were likely to be infected they would have to cut down all the trees in the grove.

    Lately we have focused on psyllid management but all the approaches to managing the disease have been short term while we work on a more long term solution – developing a tree that is resistant to citrus greening.

    FJF: The University of Florida has recently announced the development of gene-editing technology to fight HLB – could you tell us more? And can you tell us what other methods are being trialled?

    MR: You mention the genetic modification angle but before we go into that that there is another approach that we have been looking at and this is the conventional breeding programme. We have a big citrus breeding programme at the University of Florida and we have a lot of trees in the field that have been evaluated, including what we call ‘crosses’, that have been created by cross pollination over the past 20 or 30 years, and it has become a natural experiment because you have citrus greening showing up on our field sites and moving through the groves with the result that many trees die. But equally we have many that don’t die.  So in this process we have identified a number of conventionally bred citrus trees that are unique non-commercial plants, varieties that are not currently grown by the farmer that are now showing some tolerance – not resistance. And by tolerance what I mean is that the trees are lasting longer – surviving a bit longer – and producing fruit for a bit longer. They are probably still going to die from the disease eventually but for a grower it means that they will have several more years of productive life out of a tree before it does die. We have actually released two of those new varieties that are showing tolerance to HLB. They are not the round orange but fresh fruit mandarin varieties – one is called ‘Sugar Belle’ and the other ‘Bingo’.

    In addition to the mandarins there are many more new varieties that are being examined but not released yet for commercial breeding which are showing promise. Either for release to the growers or to serve as plants that provide genes that are used later on in genetic modification.

    Which brings me back to gene-editing technology, or genetic modification.

    We have projects right now that our faculty are working on that are identifying genes in citrus plants that are responsible for disease resistance or tolerance.  When they identify a resistance gene they move it from one citrus plant to another to create a resistant variety. Alternatively if it’s a gene that causes HLB then it is more desirable to turn off this problem gene. That’s where the CRISPR technique – an acronym for ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats’, gene editing technique comes in and that’s what I think we are all most excited about.

    Generally there’s a lot of negative public perception about genetic modification and people are concerned about things being added to plants and don’t fully understand what it means. With gene editing it involves taking something off or taking something away and people’s perceptions are more excepting of that type of technology and it’s much easier and much quicker to develop.

    We have a researcher here who was the first person to use gene editing in citrus and they are very much involved in using CRSPR. This researcher was able to develop a grapefruit variety that is resistant to the disease citrus canker. The reason they started with citrus canker was because this is a disease that they had been working with for a long time and they knew which genes were responsible. If we can turn off the genes for citrus canker then it shows we can replicate this technology for citrus greening once we have identified the genes responsible for that disease. We can basically go in and turn those genes off as well. It’s a kind of ‘proof of concept’ approach.

    Now the focus is on identifying genes responsible for citrus greening which is not easy as there are thousands of genes that play some role in the various diseases of citrus and the citrus response to the disease. We have multiple researchers now tasked with narrowing down those potential gene targets to find the ones that are most likely to be involved, editing them out and developing that resistant plant for the future.

    Those potential genes that our researchers have already identified are now in the process of being knocked out of the plant. Then it is just a matter of evaluating those plants long term to see if the new plant develops a resistance to the disease.

    FJF: How long do you expect it take for these methods to start to bring some normality back to the groves?

    MR: We are very much in a bottleneck situation now in terms of time and seeing any return to normality. Let me explain. We are talking about growing a tree from a single cell to something that can be evaluated against disease resistance, and growing that tree once you have edited out those genes to get a tree to a size where you can work with can take a year at least.

    It’s a waiting game. You have to do the work, and then you have to wait awhile until you have got a tree that is large enough to work with and that’s where we stand right now. We have a lot of potential plants coming forward but we have to do those tests to see if we had successfully developed a resistant plant.

    If one of those plants turns out to be the one, then that’s great. Problem solved! But in the meantime while you are waiting on that batch to come through we have to continue to develop even more batches that can come through if the first batch turns out to be dud. We don’t want to lose time. Say for example we had ten different targets knocked out and we are growing those up and then those ten didn’t work out we would want to have ten more, or a hundred more behind them – keeping the work going as fast as we can and continuing to develop back up batches. We are not sitting back and waiting. We are being proactive and continuing to work so that somewhere down the line we have a solution in the pipeline.

    FJF: It must be both an exciting and worrying environment to be working in at the moment?

    MR: It is exciting but everybody is very worried about our industry and we are all just hoping that we can find the solution sooner rather than later for the citrus growers. We are running out of time – we have a lot of groves where growers are having to ask themselves every year, or maybe every six months – taking a step back and thinking, can we continue to stay in business? We’ve seen some of the small growers go out of business. They were no longer making enough money to make a living. Some of them are selling their groves off and letting the real estate market move in.  Some growers are trying to keep their land in agriculture and are looking at alternative crops like peaches and blueberries. They are sticking with it because they, like us, know that there is going to be an answer sooner or later and farmers want to be ready to go back and plant citrus once we have that solution.

    We still have growers who are planting citrus right now using a selection of different root stocks that have been developed from the number of provincial breeding programmes that have been running that seem to be a little more tolerant of greening. They are not resistant but growers are planting them anyway and taking extra special care of those plants and doing a better job of watering and fertilization and just trying to keep the plants producing fruits so they have continuity of fruit for the future until we get that true resistant tree.

    FJF: Which other organisations are tasked with tackling the disease and what are the different roles they serve?

    MR: There are a number of organisations involved and the federal government is providing funding to help with the research. In Florida, we have our research centre CREC at the UF and we are the lead institution for citrus research in the state and we are the largest research centre in the world dedicated to one crop. Also in Florida, we have the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and they have a research plant down here focusing on many different areas of agriculture and there is a team of researchers dedicated to working on citrus.

    Outside of Florida in other states in the US there are research teams that are working on different aspects of citrus greening looking at plant genetics and insect genetics. We have grower organisations who are working with us at CREC to help guide the research priorities. Basically everybody both in Florida and the US that is tied to citrus in some way is fulfilling some role in fighting this disease whether it’s providing guidance, research or funding.

    FJF: Greening has spread more widely in Brazil now and more recently been identified in Argentina. Do you think these countries have the necessary infrastructure in place to effectively combat the disease?

    MR: Yes, we have very good working relationships with both Brazil and Argentina and our researchers are collaborating with researchers from those countries.  I do work a lot with some Brazilian organisations and they are right along with us with so many different things relative to this disease. And while they found HLB first in Brazil they are not suffering to quite the extent that we are in Florida.

    In Brazil citrus growers are typically that much larger in scale and the farms are bigger than in Florida where we have a lot of smaller farms. We don’t have as much land in Florida as they do in Brazil. Florida is a state whereas Brazil is an entire country and they have been able to move their industry around as needed. The size of the farm plays a huge role in how the disease spreads because typically psyllids will fly into the grove and they will start feeding on the trees on the edge of the grove and literally move inward.

    The smaller the grove the quicker that grove will become infected and if you have a much larger scale grove like they have in Brazil where they have maybe thousands upon thousands of hectares versus maybe tens of hundreds of hectares that we have in Florida, they come in and treat their groves with insecticides and they can control the psyllids before they move deeper into the grove.

    When you look at the disease spread of HLB it usually starts on the outside edge of a grove and works its way in. That’s why they have been able to slow the spread.

    They have done a good job on area wide control and we have replicated one of their programmes in Florida in the larger groves in the southern part of the state with the result that the trees are surviving longer than those in the smaller groves further north in Florida.

    FJF: The Citrus Research and Education Centre is celebrating its 100th anniversary this coming November. Do you envisage having any positive results from your research to announce at this special occasion?

    MR: We will see! People keep asking me how long it will be before you have an announcement to make. I don’t know – it might be a year or it might be tomorrow. We have a lot of things we are really excited about but we don’t want to get premature talking about things until we know how it’s going to work out.

    Growers have to make decisions right now based on the information we currently have. We don’t want to give them a false sense of security. As soon as we know we have something you are going to hear a lot more from us about it but we are working as fast as we can – working all hours.

    It’s a race against the clock. We know we will get a solution but will it be in time for our industry?

    We are confident that we will!

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 18 Sep
    Antwerp welcomes the juice industry for the 2017 Summit

    Antwerp welcomes the juice industry for the 2017 Summit

    Now in its fifth year the Juice Summit brings together delegates and exhibitors from the global juice industry for another stimulating and topical conference on the 4th and 5th October in Antwerp, Belgium

    Launched in 2013 with the aim of providing a forum for industry players and their suppliers, the Juice Summit is now a mainstream international conference boasting speakers who are renowned experts and leaders in their various sectors across the European and international juice market. Compared to other industries the Juice Summit is unique in that it is organised by the fruit juice industry for the fruit juice industry.

    Since 2013 the conference has been growing in attendee numbers and last year (2016) the Summit attracted 543 participants from 41 countries representing a total of 291 companies. The organisers are confident that the numbers for this year will be considerably more. This year’s event will allow delegates to maximise the networking opportunities on offer at three evening gatherings at prestigious venues in Antwerp.

    In a packed programme the AIJN, together with its partners the IFU and SGF, has produced an agenda that will cover a wide variety of issues which will look at the business environment as it is today and what the challenges are for the future. Speakers and panellists at the Summit will also share their vision of the future for the fruit juice industry.

    The first morning of the Summit will feature both a Technical and a Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) stream running alongside each other prior to the main conference commencing in the afternoon.

    Highlights of the technical stream facilitated by Helmut Dietrich (Director, Wine Analysis and Beverage Technology, Germany)  include sessions on food fraud, the challenges of growing pineapples, water related risk in the food supply chain, choosing sustainable packaging solutions, Pressure Change Technology – the new process technology for non-thermal pasteurization of fruit juices, low heat shelf life extension by pulsed electric fields, vitamin C retention and pulp/fibre integrity and finally DNA analysis to control raw materials and finished products.

    The CSR stream introduced by Béràngere Magarinos-Ruchat (Vice President Sustainability and Partnerships, Firmenich, Switzerland) will look at consumer perceptions and innovation opportunities, the importer’s perspective on CSR – plan, program, or process?

    This will be followed by presentations on the retail approach to CSR and applying the EU directive on non-financial reporting at national level. After the juice break, session 2 will look at the juice CSR platform – a pre-competitive collaboration that works, Fundecitrus – a 40 year history of successful support to Brazilian citrus growers and finally a presentation on the sustainable trade initiative, aiming for 100% sustainable juice.

    The main conference session convenes on the afternoon of day one with welcome addresses from

    José Jordão, the current AIJN President, Dirk Lansbergen, President of the IFU and Joachim Tretzel, President of the SGF.

    The first session titled the Dynamics of the Global Fruit Juice Market looks at the USA featuring California’s impact on beverage innovation plus the European, Asian and African markets. This is followed by a session entitled Tapping into the Mind of the Consumer and includes presentations on social media, woman of today, how to add value to juice through digitalisation and customised innovation and finishes up with a look at changing consumer behaviour.

    Day two kicks off with a session on the Trends and Challenges for the Agri-Food and Fruit Juice Industry which looks at the impact of Brexit, the European programme on food waste, a presentation on the IDH covenant and a look at the organic market in 2017. Kees Kools, Dohler Group, then chairs a panel session on the Juice Supply Chain – Outlook and Challenges looking at orange, apple, lemon and pineapple juices.  After lunch the conference concludes with a session updating delegates on the Fruit Juice Matters programme with various country case studies and strategy presentations.

    The Juice Summit 2017 will be held at the Hilton Antwerp Hotel in Antwerp, Belgium. Details on how to register, hotel information, speaker profiles and a detailed agenda can be found at www.juicesummit.org

    Information correct at time of going to press

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 15 Jul
    Aiming for 100% sustainable juice by 2030 – the clock is ticking 

    Aiming for 100% sustainable juice by 2030 – the clock is ticking 

    Back in March this year leading European beverage and food companies joined forces and formed a coalition aiming for 100% sustainable juice and puree by 2030. Under the coordination of IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative – the companies Döhler,  FrieslandCampina Riedel,  Refresco  and Verbruggen Juice Trading Sustainable Products b.v., signed a global covenant targeting 100% verified sustainable sourcing for their juices within the next decade. With the support of AIJN, the European Fruit Juice Association, they have agreed to work on the certification and verification of their supply chains as well as addressing specific sustainability issues.

    As part of the commitment, the companies’ progress towards 100% sustainability will be monitored by an independent third party, based on a common definition on sustainability criteria (including SAI FSA and SMETA based principle). In 2018, the companies are committed to having 15% of their volume sourced sustainably, rising to 30% in 2020, 75% in 2025 and to then have 100% volume sourced sustainably in 2030.

    Photo Bernd IsenbergSome of the immediate next steps for the coalition is to get the annual process monitoring in place, setting pre-competitive projects in the field and to develop an activity plan for the first year.

    Here Bernd Isenberg from IDH talks to Fruit Juice Focus about how it all started, what the challenges are and how the fruit juice industry and the consumers will benefit in years to come.

    Fruit Juice Focus (FJF) Can you give us some background to IDH and how it operates as a champion for sustainability?

    Bernd Isenberg  IDH (BI): IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative) accelerates and up-scales sustainable trade. Established back in 2009 by the Dutch government, we build impact-oriented coalitions of private sector organisations, civil society organisations, governments and other stakeholders with the aim of helping to improve the sustainability of international supply chains. By bringing together public and private interests, and utilising their strengths and industry knowledge, the IDH programmes are aimed at making sustainability the new norm. IDH has experience in more than 15 sectors including cotton, tea, fruit and vegetables, and other crops.

    With a 105 M euro match funding grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IDH organises scoping, development and implementation of public private, precompetitive market transformation programmes. The IDH investments in market transformation programs are match funded by private companies.

    We work with leading multinational companies, governments and civil society to bring about real, practical and measurable sustainability objectives that help reduce poverty, safeguard the environment and foster fair and transparent trade.

    We basically bring everybody involved around the table in the sector specific landscapes and jointly develop a sustainability agenda for that industry drawing from the sustainability issues involved in the various supply chains.

    FJF: How did the IDH get involved with the fruit juice sector?

    BIThe Juice Covenant is something that was set up very recently – it was started in March this year. It came off the back of another closely related sector that we are already working in which is the sustainability initiative for fresh fruit and vegetables (SIFAV2020) which was launched in 2012 and now has more than 40 members. The aim of this project is to ensure that members make their imports of fruits and vegetables from Africa, Asia and South America 100% sustainable in 2020 – quite an ambition!

    Interestingly the juice programme is a little bit of an exception because they don’t only focus on produce from developing countries but produce that is sourced globally no matter where it is coming from.

    Since the above initiative has been very well received by the industry and by the participating companies and organisations there has been quite some demand for setting up something similar for processed fruits and vegetables and also for juices.  At the beginning of last year (2016) we were approached by certain AIJN (European Fruit Juice Association) member companies who were asking us whether we could set up something similar for the juice sector.

    We started having discussions with two companies to see how we could make that work in practice resulting in the covenant which the first four members signed up to when we launched in 2017.

    Since then we have two more companies that have joined the group (Frutco AG and V&K Pineapple Canning) and one major organisation – The Rainforest Alliance who has also signed up to the covenant. The group is slowly growing.  We are looking to expand further and are very much focused now on getting more participants on board and at the same time validating the process that will enable companies to track their progress towards the target for 100% sustainable juice in 2030.

    Although the initial companies signed up are European based they all have a global footprint and going forward we expect more companies outside of Europe to get involved as has been proven with the signing up of the Thai company mentioned above.

    FJF: How many companies would you need to ensure the initiative has major penetration across the industry?

    BI: Our target for 2017 is to have 10 companies on board by the end of the year. When you are looking at the type and size of companies that are joining, like Refresco and Dohler for example, we will be getting quite far already in terms of market share with those 10 companies. Then in the next few years we will expect to grow to about 20 or 30 companies – maybe even reach 40, but we can’t expect everyone to join the covenant. It’s really the companies that are serious about their responsibilities and who want to carve out a space for themselves in sustainability who are going to go for this.

    FJF: How does the covenant work? Is it a legally binding agreement?

    BI:  The companies have a moral obligation – not a legal one. They signed up to commit themselves to fulfilling the aim of becoming 100% sustainable juice providers by 2030.

    FJF: How do you at IDH monitor and benchmark progress by the participating companies towards the 100% sustainable juice by 2030 objective and how do you communicate this?

    BI: We don’t communicate with the group about any individual company’s progress. This is confidential to them but we do communicate with the group as a whole by publishing aggregated averages across all the different areas we are working on.

    Together with members of the Covenant we set up projects to address specific sustainability issues such as smallholder inclusion, working conditions, responsible agrochemical management, and climate resilience.

    The companies are monitored by a third party on their progress towards the target and there will be intermediate targets as well. For example the first one will be 15% in 2018 and then the company will get feedback by the monitoring organisation showing where they stand and how to make progress towards the 100% target.

    FJF: Does each participating company have a specific person or department set up to work with the monitoring company and IDH?

    BI: Very often it is the procurement teams but it can also be their sustainability departments so it depends a bit on the company as to who is in touch with us and the monitoring team.

    FJF: 2030 is quite a long way off – after that date will there be continued monitoring to make sure companies are still maintaining these standards?

    BI: This is a difficult question as it is so far away. We are having those discussions now for the fresh fruit and vegetables covenant which is up in 2020 and there the intention is definitely to keep on measuring so we would imagine that there would be similar process with the juice initiative

    FJF: You say that firms don’t talk to each other about their progress but talk instead to the monitoring company or IDH. Do they have more formal meetings or platforms to exchange ideas on progress going forward?

    BI: We do. First of all the steering committee meets regularly – four times per year – ready to give this programme a strategic direction and also to get behind the workings of the field level projects that we are going to implement. Next to that there is also the general assembly which is going to take place once per year which is also aimed at being a learning platform where companies can exchange theory and case studies with each other on how to improve on their share of sustainable sourcing.

    FJF: Are you flushing out elements of the supply chain that are below the required standards that will lose business because of the initiative?

    BI: We are not ourselves analysing specific parts of the supply chain to see what the sustainability issues are. But what we have done is commission the WWF to develop a digital map of  60 sustainability hotspots in the processed fruits and vegetables sector. So for example you could click on Ecuador bananas and then you would see what specifically the risks are for sourcing bananas for processing in Ecuador. You can see what the social, environmental and economic sustainability is for this hotspot and compare risks associated with this source.

    We make this hotspot map accessible to the members of this covenant, and jointly develop issue mitigation projects to address the identified risks.

    FJF: Were there any pressures from consumers that prompted this initiative?

    BI: Yes there was and still is pressure from the consumers. The companies that have signed up for the covenant so far are not retailers so they don’t have a direct link with the consumer but they have recognised the opportunities arising from this pressure on the retailers who are their customers.

    The companies that are working together with us now are often approached by their clients that say ‘we want you to sell more sustainable juice to us’, but they don’t provide a clear direction on the definition of sustainability. This is why it is very important and commendable that the juice industry has taken the initiative into its own hands the process being facilitated by IDH which is an internationally recognised and credible organisation, together with the industry body the AIJN and others organisations.

    We are agreeing on a definition of sustainability that should become the norm for the industry. This gives the companies a clear proposition and message to retail and also to the end consumer on how we as an industry are jointly tackling sustainability.

    FJF: How have IDH and the AIJN collaborated on this project

    BI: The AIJN has been very much involved in the sustainable juice initiative from the very beginning. They have endorsed the covenant as one of the ways for companies to put the AIJN code of business conduct into action. Equally they do make it clear that they can’t prescribe it as the only way for members to become sustainable and that it is one of several options toward sustainability. AIJN have been actively participating in our steering committee meetings as advisors. The AIJN is also providing part of the funding that is necessary to run the Covenant secretariat.

    We also make use of the AIJN as a platform to provide the covenant with ongoing support and promotion. The Juice Summit in Antwerp this October will feature presentations on sustainable juice at the main event and at the CSR side-stream. We did the same last year and the AIJN has been very instrumental in getting this initiative known by the industry.

    We anticipate more companies signing up  and even though the 2030 objective for companies to be 100% sustainable may seem a long way off, the sooner they join the covenant and get started the better for the fruit juice industry and for the consumers.

    For more information on the sustainable juice initiative and how your company may benefit from joining please contact Bernd at isenberg@idhtrade.org, or Elske at stevenson@idhtrade.org or visit www.idhsustainabletrade.com

    By Caroline Calder Features
  • 15 Jul
    A record line-up for drinktec 2017

    A record line-up for drinktec 2017

    Drinktec, which is expecting record participation figures in its 60-year history, boasts of being the world´s leading process technology trade fair for the beverage, fruit juice and liquid food industry, and the biggest global gathering of this sector—a kind of world summit. From small, family-owned firms to global players, anyone who has anything to say in the sector will be at drinktec this September.

    The trade fair, which takes place at the Messe München exhibition centre in Munich will take up 14 exhibition halls, covering a total of 150,000 square metres of space and will run from September 11 to 25, 2017 attracting around 1,600 exhibitors and 70,000 visitors with two-thirds of these visitors expected to come from outside Germany.

    The entire process chain is represented by companies exhibiting at drinktec this year including process technology, containers and packing materials, filling and packaging technology, raw materials and ingredients through to process automation, energy systems and PET technology.

    drinktec is “an absolute must” for fruit juice manufacturers

    drinktec has traditionally been a trade fair of innovations and world premieres. It is where the future is made, especially when it comes to manufacturing solutions that are gentle to the products and flexible process control.

    Modern process technology in beverage and fruit juice production is the intelligent interaction of individual components and systems and is a key factor in meeting consumers’ needs for quality, pleasure, variety and health benefits on the one hand and to give manufacturers innovation that allows them to work economically and flexibly and conserves resources on the other. Exhibitors will present the latest product solutions that strike that balance.

    Elaborate process technology makes it possible to gently process raw materials under production conditions that have been optimised for hygiene. Processes such as micro and ultrafiltration ensure higher nutritional values—which has an immediately noticeable positive impact on consumers’ health. After all, when it comes to beverage consumption, there is a growing focus on health aspects. This also includes the separate handling of juice and fruit pieces in process technology when dealing with extremely healthy and flavourful juices. It starts with product handling and continues until the bottling process. This is a good example of systematic thinking, which must cover each and every aspect of beverage production and is showcased by the all-encompassing range of exhibits at drinktec.

    Process technology will be addressed at the exhibitors’ stands as well as in the fair’s supporting programme. This includes the drinktec Forum, where leading experts from research and practice will make presentations that examine the industry’s future questions and take a look at the “bigger picture”. Process-technology specialists will also find the exhibition sector on “New Beverage Concepts” in Hall B1 interesting. The marketplace will allow manufacturers to introduce their latest sweetener, colouring and aroma strategies.

    Klaus Heitlinger, Managing Director of the Association of the German Fruit Juice Industry, is convinced: “drinktec is an absolute must for fruit juice manufacturers. Technical innovations for processing and bottling fruit juices are presented there for the first time. I’m talking about important processes such as high-pressure pasteurisation or customised single-bottle printing. In short: anyone who wants to see the latest developments in process technology must go to drinktec!”

    Resource conservation and efficiency

    So, when it comes to process technology, what will await visitors at drinktec this year?

    “The efficient use of resources is a must in beverage production. Whether it comes to water, energy or other media used in the production process, the choice of process technology determines resource consumption, and each and every component used can contribute to that,” explains Richard Clemens, Managing Director of the Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA).

    The solutions that manufacturers of process technology for non-alcoholic beverages, juice and water have on display at drinktec include entire plants as well as individual units – for example, sugar infeed and processing, de-aeration installations, carbonation plants and pre-mixers as well as containers, tanks and chilling, heating and heat-maintenance plants. Other focal points include components for process technology as well as installations for measurement recording, pumps, fittings, pipelines and pigging systems. Microbiologically safe production calls for variable cleaning concepts that are implemented by introducing various CIP systems. This also includes choosing the right type of water treatment. Should it be reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration or media filtration? These are questions that can be answered in discussions with the exhibitors.

    “And, of course, when it comes to the composition of new products, efficiency becomes the focus when rapidly converting production processes,” emphasises Richard Clemens. “Automatic recipe management with a continuous flow of information and a link to process control can ensure highly automated processes and efficient production control—regardless of which ingredients are used in which product. drinktec 2017 will give trade visitors a compact and concentrated look at the entire range of possibilities.”

    Highlights from the supporting programme
    Special Area New Beverage Concepts, Hall B1: In a special exhibition area in Hall B1 manufacturers of sweeteners, colourants, ingredients, additives and flavourings, treatment agents and recipes will be presenting their new products and solutions. The “Special Area” has an open and interactive design. Product developers, brand managers as well as marketers and buyers will be able to try out new ingredients and beverage concepts at the bar, and also search the flavour providers for new ideas.

    Innovation Flow Lounge (IFL): Following its highly successful premiere in 2013, the IFL will be continued in 2017, but with a new concept: leading experts will discuss the topical themes of importance for the future of the industry in the areas of product innovation, packaging and marketing. IFL and the Special Area New Beverage Concepts will have a joint space at the show, so that topics from the area of new beverage concepts, such as beverage ingredients and ideas, are also addressed and dealt with in the IFL.

    For more information on drinktec 2017 go to: www.drinktec.com


    WB1716UKComBevFruitJuice556x160 urschel July Aug




    By Caroline Calder Features
1 15 16 17 18 19 20 21