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Ripe Opportunities in the Global Juice Market
In 2001, Donald Gibb saw a demonstration of a new high-pressure processing (HPP) machine at a CSIRO Information Day. He saw the potential for processing local Victorian stone fruit into yoghurt and dairy products, and began market feasibility studies.
Eight years later, Preshafood Ltd is an unlisted public company with annual sales of more than $1million in fresh fruit juice alone. The success of the company’s juice brand Preshafruit, in its distinctive triangular shaped bottle,means the company is looking to increase capacity by 600% by mid-2010.
In the Food Industry HPP is still considered a highly innovative technology,so ensuring that food safety standards were met was essential but also challenging, due to the previously untested machinery. To assist them reach these standards NCS International (NCSI) has worked with Preshafood, formerly known as Donny Boy, since 2008, auditing them against HACCP requirements which ensured that they could expand both their domestic and international market base.
Meeting the Challenge
Just what makes a HPP produced juice so different? The answer is heat. Most juices, including the most natural and fresh brands on the market, use
heat pasteurisation to kill bacteria. The problem with this is that this heat changes the flavour. Apples caramelise and the juices go brown. Juices
made from reconstituted or concentrated juice are often heated twice.
By using pressure instead of heat, the fruit’s natural nutrients are retained – giving it twice the vitamin C and antioxidants of regular juice. For retailers, the shelf life of the product is extended without the need for preservatives, and food safety standards are still met.
Andrew Gibb, Preshafood’s Managing Director, recognised early on that consumers were looking for a clean label juice – no preservatives, concentrates, sweeteners or colours, just fruit.
“We made our first commercial product in 2007, using CSIRO machines,” he says. “The difference was amazing – the taste, the texture, the colour.” This product, an apricot, granny smith apple and peach yoghurt made for the Ruiz brand, was distributed through Coles and the company’s fruit yoghurt business took off.
In April 2008, Preshafruit opened a $1.4million processing facility in Derrimut, Victoria and soon began producing fruit juice under its own brand, Preshafruit. Their 55-litre HPP machine was able to churn out up to 10,000 bottles per day.
In July 2008 they began working with NCSI to achieve HACCP certification. This relationship was not only essential for supplying Australia’s big retail players, Woolworths and Coles, but also for developing a potential export trade.
With HACCP certification it didn’t take long for the export market to come knocking. “This was an enormous opportunity,” recalls Andrew. “Flash-pasteurised juices cannot be exported, because by the time they reach a store overseas they may only have a 20-day shelf life left. With our juice, we could extend that to 150 days.”
Sales to Singapore commenced in December 2008. Thailand and Hong Kong followed soon after. Although export sales currently account for just 5% of turnover, with sales to Europe, Japan and the USA in the pipeline the export potential for the HACCP certified product looks huge.
“The Asian market has never tasted anything like it,” says Andrew. “It’s 100% fruit, no added flavours, colouring, concentrate or preservatives.”
Every market has different safety and technical requirements to meet. To meet Thailand’s strict import requirements, HACCP certification was essential.
“NCSI were recommended to us by a number of different people in the industry,” comments Andrew. “Initially it was an arduous process for us and for NCSI, because we were the first HPP fruit facility to be certified in the world.”
In fact, there are still only four HPP machines in Australia. Preshafood has the only one in Victoria, and is still the only one using it for fruit juice.
“Basically, we were selling a technology that was unproven. We needed certification as a badge of honour, to reassure consumers it is safe.”
Andrew saw enormous benefit in the audit process with NCSI. “It was remarkable how well the HACCP requirements applied to our manufacturing processes,” he says. “It enabled us to streamline our processes – gave us freedom within the framework to comply, using our technology.”
It also ensured that a structure was in place to deal with any potential problems. “If there are any customer concerns or problems with batches, HACCP certification has demonstrated that we have the procedures to deal with that, which has really helped.”
With such a unique high-quality product, it’s no wonder the demand has grown so quickly. “As soon as Coles and Woolworth’s saw how well it was going in independent stores, they snapped it up,” says Andrew. “For me the most insightful thing is how our customers really ‘get it’ – they love these clean label products. It has been a great success in a very short time on the market.”
As well as launching Preshafruit in Europe, US and Japan, a new fruit coulis will soon go into stores around Australia. The rest of the world is certainly taking notice - at the recent 2009 beverage innovation awards ceremony in Munich, Preshafood won the Best overall concept award and Best new juice or juice drink award.
A new HPP machine with six times the capacity will be ordered shortly. It will go into the same HACCP certified Derrimut plant next year, continuing to create new jobs locally and support Victoria’s fruit growers and orchards. By partnering with NCSI to ensure they have the required experience and technical knowledge for their HACCP management system, there is no doubt that this exponential growth will be supported by a robust program demonstrating a high level of commitment to food safety.
For more information on how NCS International can assist you with your certification, call 1300 856 554 or Request a Quote Online.