Unlocking Growth in the Fruit Processing IndustryPublished On: March 17, 2017
The last two decades has witnessed a whopping growth in the agricultural produce especially from the developing countries cited to the advanced agricultural practices as well as genetically modified, improved seeds/plants that has delivered excellent yield. For instance, As per National Horticulture Database published by National Horticulture Board, during 2014-15, India produced 86.602 million metric tons of fruits which show significant increase as compared with 71.516 million metric tons in 2010. Among other developing countries, Brazil has also witnessed significant growth in the fruit production while China remains the top producer of fruits across the globe. Other major fruit producing countries includes Mexico, Philippines, and Iran.
Apart from growing production, growing consumption of fruits, and processed fruit production such as juice, jam, jelly has been steadily increasing cited to growing awareness among the public at large regarding the importance of healthy food choices. This has clearly served as a key driving factor for the fruit processing industry in most developed countries and the trend is expected to continue in the years to come. This scenario has much to offer not just for the agricultural sector but to overall agro based food processing industry. Considering growing demand for the fruit juices, most of the manufacturers are now making attempt to offer more nontraditional fruit juices such as aonla juice, wheatgrass juice; while the mainstream fruit juices such as pineapple, orange, mango, and apple continue to dominate the global fruit juice market. According to Economic Research Service of United States Department of Agriculture, Americans consumed an average of 119.9 pounds of fresh and processed fruit per person in 2014
According to European Fruit Juice Association, in European countries as well, orange (38.8%) is most commonly consumed fruit juice followed by mixed fruit juice (19.0%) and apple (14.9%). Some of the people prefers the fresh fruit juice extracted at home, however, recent trends have shown tremendous increase in consumption of packaged fruit juices all around the world. According to European Fruit Juice Association, 82.5% people have found to be taking fruit juice to home in packaged condition preferable in cartoons (62.8%). These stats indicate the growing preference and acceptance to the processed fruit juices across making fruit juice processing a lucrative industry to invest in countries like India and Brazil which are among the top fruit producing countries and where the per capita consumption of fruit juice is much lower than developed nations. It makes them potential supplier of fruits as well as fruit juice or juice concentrates. However, fruit processing sector in these countries is much complex and fragmented where producers are mostly trying to export the whole fruit instead of processed fruit juices.
Despite of contributing 12.6% of global fruit production, India contributes less than 1.5% of global fruit processing industry. This is mainly due to the lack of skilled manpower, inefficient technology, poor cold storage facilities, and major post harvest losses. However, with the advent of technology and growing awareness about the potential of fruit processing, countries like India can soon increase their share in fruit processing.
Despite of the production and processing capability, it is important for the manufacturers to match the international standard in order to be competitive. Countries like India have consistently facing the sections on its agricultural produce for not matching quality norms. For instance, Saudi Arabia, and European Nations have been threatening to ban Indian agricultural produce cited to poor quality, and in the year 2014, EU has banned the imports of Alphonso mango from India for the same reason. Therefore, it is imperative that all norms related to fruit juice must be followed prior exporting. These standards can be matched if manufacturers perform quality checks right from the procurement of raw material. the raw fruit must be free from any sort of pesticides and contamination. Several laboratory tests are required at the critical stages of the fruit juice processing including those of microbial tests, chemical tests, authenticity tests, and pesticide tests. Also, the HACCP certified plant is a must to prepare the export quality fruit juice. The manufacturers must choose wisely all the machineries and storage tanks carefully since they directly come in contact with the fruit juice. Also, the packaging of the finished product must be in a material that does not cause any reaction with the acidic fruit juices. For instance, orange juice which is high in citric acid tends to react with the aluminum based packaging material altering the taste of the juice but also making it hazardous to consume.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE#2) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are some of the leading packaging materials used in fruit processing industry since these are made of a food grade plastic and are also a lot cheaper than metal based packaging material. This is great option for the pulp exporters since it is durable and has lesser weight as compared with its counterparts. Cartoons (tetra packaging) is another popular fruit juice packaging material being used by many multinational companies cited to its higher resistance to contamination and ability to provide longer shelf life to the fruit juices. More than 60% retail fruit juices around the world are sold through the cartoon followed by plastic (around 25%), and glass (less than 10%). In case of bulk fruit pulp export, plastic containers, steel drum, plastic drum, stainless steel containers, foldable and bang in the box containers are used widely across the globe.
Once the product is prepared and packaged in aseptic condition in the certified plant, manufacturers must also ensure that it reaches its destination be it the retail or the user of another processing unit in a safe and controlled environment. Generally the retail products prepared with the tetra packaging technology doesn’t require the cold storage and controlled environment. However, the fruit pulp must be stored at low temperature and shouldn’t be exposed to external environment during the transportation to avoid the deterioration and contamination of this highly perishable product. Therefore, the fruit pulp must be hermitically sealed in a container made up of a material that doesn’t react with the fruit pulp and is transferred through the cold storage facilities. With this method the natural aroma, taste, and flavor of the fruit can be maintained intact.
Conclusion and prospects-
The demand for packaged fruits juice is skyrocketing across the globe cited to growing health awareness and importance of organic fruit juice. On the other hand, with the advent of technology, production of fruits is also growing significantly which offers many opportunities to the manufacturers of fruit juice/pulp across the globe. However, in most developing countries, the lack of infrastructure and lack of skilled labor has hampered the prospects for all the stakeholders in this market. Therefore, to ensure the competitiveness in the global market, effective implementation of food norms and quality check at the critical point is imperative as well as manufacturers needs to be critical about the packaging material and transportation of the product to ensure no losses are incurred.
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