Small and medium fruit juice enterprises

Small-scale fruit juice processing appears to be an ideal business for entrepreneurs in fruit-producing areas, especially as there are inevitably large surpluses of cheap fruit at harvest.
/~However, the year-round availability of fruit is a major issue which needs to be well integrated into the enterprise and impacts on the overall cost.
      Small and medium-sized fruit juice businesses must produce batches of juice on a daily basis throughout the year. They must maintain the necessary production and stocks to ensure that all customers can be supplied with juice throughout the year.
Juice is generally packed and sold through vendors, "tuck shops", general dealers and supermarkets.
Since the juice is packaged and labelled, the enterprise must produce standard juices with a consistent quality at all times. This is different from the informal juice vendor, where juice is prepared on the spot when the customer arrives, with whatever fruit is available.
Small and medium-sized fruit juice  businesses have to use juice concentrates to supplement the fresh fruit it sources and processes.
Juices and processes
To be able to distribute its juice the business must preserve the juice it produces, giving it a shelf life that suits both the customer and the retailer. Fruit juice is preserved through the combination of some or all of: heating, adding preservatives and maintaining a low temperature throughout the distribution chain.
The needs of the market, along with the availability of technology on a small scale, determine the combination of process, packaging and equipment that allows the business to supply its market successfully. Different processes can be used in combinations to produce products that match the quality and stability needs demanded by the consumer.
In areas where refrigeration is available, juice extracted from high-quality fruit can be packaged and distributed. An increase of 10°C has been shown to halve juice shelf life, so an efficient, fast and guaranteed cold chain, right up to the consumer’s glass, is required.
Even then, a shelf life of only a day or two can be achieved – which doesn’t suit the small processor especially in poor rural areas.
A more usual approach, which can be applied on the small scale, is to pasteurise the juice, and add a preservative before filling into low-density polyethylene bottles or pouches for distribution through a cold chain.
The combination of pasteurisation and preservation extends the shelf life to weeks rather than days, depending on the process, preservatives and cold chain.  
However, if there is no cold chain it is necessary to pasteurise and hot-fill the juice to ensure re-infection does not occur during filling and that a suitable shelf life is achieved. Bottles need to be resistant to the hot-fill temperature, which is about 80°C to 95°C. The additional heating of the juice (including the long time while the bottle cools) will effect the taste and colour of the juice negatively.
Even more secure is in-bottle pasteurisation, where glass bottles are filled with the juice and sealed. The bottles are immersed in very hot water for a period that ensures that pasteurisation is achieved. This process, if properly implemented, can provide practically limitless shelf life although the product is even more affected by the heating. It is used in production of almost all bottled beer.
Some solutions are just not possible on the small scale – for instance, the aseptic filling line used to produce long-life fruit juice and milk in "brick" cartons is not available for small production volumes and is expensive (filling lines producing thousands of litres an hour cost millions of dollars).   
Juicing equipment  
The equipment available depends on the production required. The required plant capacity is calculated by dividing the peak day’s production by 8; production can be increased by running more than a single shift as demand rises. Although juice production would normally only run for some 6 hours a day it is possible to assume that the plant will operate 8 hours a day on peak days with some overtime. This ensures that the equipment is not too costly as a result of over-sizing.
The equipment size then depends on the way the individual operations are scheduled. Equipment for the small and medium-sized fruit juice processing businesses generally operates at hundreds of kilograms per hour. This allows the production of about 100,000 litres a month.
However, distributing and selling 100,000 litres a month is a significant undertaking and probably only possible in larger centres. Large catering equipment has a capacity that is in the same order as this and should be investigated as it is proven equipment that has been used extensively.
Generally the equipment is of the same principles as that described in the article on Cottage scale fruit juice (for the text of this, search for "juice" on the FoodProcessingAfrica/Devtech section of ).
Specialised equipment is required for citrus; for other fruit the equipment either presses the juice out or separates it after liquidising the fruit. The machines are simply bigger than for cottage scale fruit juice – except for the hydraulic fruit press which is usually not used on the cottage scale as it can’t produce juice by the glass.
This equipment operates by roughly chopping the fruit and packing it between filter cloths in a press. The stack is then pressed and fairly clear juice is collected. This is the traditional process for making cider; grapes for wine are pressed in a similar way although filter cloths are not used.  
Small-scale equipment juicing 100-500kg/hour is available from many supppliers, especially from India, for prices of around $10,000 to $20,000 per machine, depending on the equipment and its capacity. For larger-sized and more complicated equipment the costs escalate sharply.
Packaging equipment
Although packaging complements juice extraction and processing, equipment is not as widely available for small-scale production/packaging as processing equipment. It also tends to be expensive and difficult to maintain.
For the smaller enterprise, Practical Action reports on a small manual bottle filler manufactured from a stainless steel bucket, with two manual valves, which is able to fill around 1,000 litres a day. This concept of manufacturing a once-off machine for manual filling probably needs to be combined with hot-filling. This would be cheap – probably costing less than $100.
Sachets are cheaper than bottles and are widely used for juice and water in West and East Africa.
A semi-automatic fill, form and seal sachet filler which can pack around 600 half-litre sachets an hour would cost from $4,500, while an automatic 600 1-litre sachets-an-hour machine would cost $8,000.
Mechanised fillers cover a range of types (piston fillers, low vacuum fillers, mass fillers), with sizes starting from around 500 containers per hour to tens of thousands of containers per hour. They cost from $8,000 upwards, to millions of dollars.
Other equipment
A juice factory requires fruit washing, juice extraction, juice treatment, juice pasteurisation and juice packaging equipment, along with auxillary equipment (for instance, mixing tanks, pumps, header tanks, conveyors, cooling towers). This equipment is connected with conveyors if necessary, supplied with services (large quantities of potable water, electricity, compressed air, etc), housed in a hygienic processing building with appropriate storage (raw materials and cold product) areas, and provided with the control equipment (scales, analytical equipment, computers), and systems (process, quality, etc) necessary to run a viable business.    
The small and medium-sized fruit juice business described is a full food processing enterprise and as such needs to comply with all local licensing, legislation and regulations. It also requires staff who are trained and skilled in food processing, operating hygienic and safe processes and the running of businesses.
The depth of the requirements preclude them from being addressed here. Contact should be made with the appropriate authorities (local government, health, agriculture and standards), any appropriate research organisations, universities, local donors and NGOs and business associations and chambers to collect information and seek support. – Dave Harcourt
For contact details of information and technology/equipment suppliers, send an e-mail to: with your postal, telephone, fax and e-mail contact details, as well as your business type, stating the READER ENQUIRY reference WORD at the end of the article.
We regret, only e-mails will be accepted. Quote Reader Enquiry Ref: 11Juice.