CONCENTRATES: The addition of sugar is often necessary to make fruit and berry concentrates palatable. A Danish company concentrates fruits and berries for export worldwide, and the organic trend has encouraged it to conduct product development using natural fruit sugar.
Sugar in food is frequently regarded as the main troublemaker by consumers in the industrialised world. But that is unfair, says Jens Ferdinand, managing director of Sunprojuice, a producer of concentrates and purees from berries and fruits. Sugar just has to be used the right way. Then it is a wonderful taste lifter.
“Sugar is good in many foods, but naturally it needs to be used prudently,” says Jens Ferdinand. “Especially in our products, sugar is often an unavoidable necessity, because the acid level in many berries and fruits is so high that the juice concentrates would taste too sour after concentration. So sugar needs to be added either to the concentrate itself or to the finished product to which we supply the concentrate.” The consumer trend for less sugar has nonetheless encouraged Sunprojuice to venture into product development projects where natural fruit sugar is used instead of ordinary sugar.
“We are working on fruit juice sweetened with fruit sugar instead of ordinary sugar,” says Jens Ferdinand. “So far the results are very positive although in my personal opinion, fruit sugar still cannot compete with sucrose on either taste or price. But I believe that the product will be really good, and will satisfy increasing consumer demands. It is healthier and has a signal value which consumers respond to.” Sunprojuice is among the Nordic region’s largest producers of organic and conventional juice concentrates, as well as purees of berries and fruits. The juice concentrates and purees are made from bilberry, blackcurrant, blackberry, cranberry, elderberry, lingonberry, raspberry, sour cherry, strawberry etc. These are purchased from Danish and foreign fruit growers and are pressed and concentrated at the company’s brand new factory in Sorø, Denmark. Customers are juice factories, breweries, food manufacturers, ice cream producers and restaurant chains all over the world.
“We export around 95% of our production, mainly to Europe, but also as far as Australia and a number of markets in Asia where we for instance sell blackcurrant concentrate. Blackcurrant is a typical Nordic product which is difficult to grow in other places. In Japan, Korea and Hong Kong consumers are prepared to pay for the relatively expensive product because it is top quality.”
Sunprojuice is also seeing a trend towards more organic products, especially from consumers in south European countries where sales of the company’s organic berry and fruit concentrates are recording growth rates of more than 20% annually.
“Our growing consumption of organic cane sugar led to us importing sugar ourselves. Then we began to sell the sugar, and today we are the largest importer of organic sugar in Scandinavia.”