Adding value to citrus

Traditionally, the most profitable proposition for citrus growers is to export the fresh fruit, which can yield $500/t on export markets. However, only the best looking and tasting fruit can be exported – and standards are rising.
In profitability, fresh fruit export is followed by “truck sales” at perhaps $150/ton.
The last option Traditionally, the most profitable proposition for citrus growers is to export the fresh fruit, which can yield $500/t on export markets. However, only the best looking and tasting fruit can be exported – and standards are rising.
In profitability, fresh fruit export is followed by “truck sales” at perhaps $150/ton.
The last option is to sell the “industrial grade” fruit to a juicing plant at perhaps $30/ton.
Given the rising surpluses of citrus (and other fruit) production world wide and the rising standards required by first world importers, the amount of citrus available for juicing is increasing rapidly.
Production of high-quality concentrates for export at dollar prices, has become an increasingly attractive proposition as surpluses of “industrial grade” citrus have begun to rise. Citrus concentrate currently sells for over $1,000/t on world markets.
Generally, smaller concentrate-producing plants are locally fabricated and they are often adequate for local citrus operations. Overseas suppliers of equipment generally cannot match local fabricators in price.
However, these smaller plants often do not have equipment for oil and aroma-extraction, which means these additional products cannot be extracted and that the quality of the concentrate may be poorer because these have not been extracted. Also, their energy use is much less efficient than sophisticated plants.
There are various proven technologies which produce concentrate:
Falling film concentration with vacuum flash cooler plant
A “falling film” juice concentrator and vacuum flash cooler plant is suited to producing concentrate from input juice. A small, South African-produced unit is likely to cost $350,000 upwards for a plant which would reduce 10t/hour of juice to 1t/hour of concentrate.
Sigmastar evaporators
This is the proprietary technology of API Schmidt-Brettens of Germany. This plate technology is well-proven, having been introduced in 1984, but is still much less common than falling film technology.
Combinations
Alternatives which normally consist of combinations of tubes and plates and tubes.
Internationally, the largest supplier of concentrate equipment – and other citrus extraction equipment – is FMC, which only leases equipment like juice extractors. The advantages of leasing (versus outright purchase) are the low capital costs and maintenance by the lessor – often amounting to total rebuilding after the season.
Byproducts of juicing and concentration
Byproducts which are generally recovered in substantial citrus processing plants with concentrators, are citrus oil, pulp, peel and essence/aroma.
Recovery of oil is the most lucrative, but is not done at small facilities primarily because of the high cost – around $100,000 and upward for imported centrifuges used to separate the oil out from the water.
Sought-after oils are lemon (an important ingredient of Coca-Cola) and grapefruit.
Different systems are offered for oil extraction. For example:
US-based Brown International, which specialises in oil and aroma extraction equipment, offers the Brown Oil Extractor (BOE) as an addition to a juicing system. Like FMC, Brown Int only leases equipment (it does not sell outright).
FMC, which claims that its citrus extraction system is unique in that it simultaneously recovers oil as well as juice during the same extraction cycle. New from FMC is the “More”, an oil extractor with a capacity of recovering up to 94% of the available peel oil (compared with around 72% of its conventional systems) for processors which do large volumes of oil extraction for specific purposes.
Juice not form concnetrate
Internationally demand is growing for juice not from concentrate (NFC) – fresh juice that is pasteurised and aseptically packed to prolong shelf life.
Americans are currently the biggest consumers of NFC, but demand from Europe and the East is rising.
Generally, international customers prefer the sweeter, but often blander, taste of South American and Mediterranean oranges. However, in Germany and Japan consumers prefer the tartness of Southern African oranges.
Another alternative for value adding of citrus on the local market is small juicing machines which produce juice for immediate consumption, being sold at supermarkets and, for instance, exhibitions and shows. An US made machine costs over $10,000.
Orange Line, a South African manufacturer of small citrus juicing machines, offers a practical, presentable machine of around $2,200.
SUPPLIER DETAILS: FMC (South Africa): Tel +27 21 982-1130 Fax +27 21 982-1136 dirk@fmc.co.za
Brown International (SA): Tel +27 15 304-3234 brownssa@mweb.co.za
Projuice Systems: Tel +27 21 981-1200 Fax +27 21 981-1230
Orange Line: Tel +27 42 234-0147 cjensen@iafrica.com

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