Citrus packhouses are striving to meet evermore demanding quality expectations, yet must also increase quantities and improve yields. This is a tricky balancing act, but it can be done, as Clinton Jeffries, Global Category Director Citrus at TOMRA Food, explains.
The fact that consumers are getting choosier about citrus fruits is having consequences for packhouses. Whatever the citrus variety, the risk is the same: if the fruit disappoints the buyer, the food brand or retailer that sold it could lose future sales. This means that retailers increasingly expect their suppliers to provide perfection – not easy for packhouses because incoming fruit is variable and outgoing fruit has to satisfy so many requirements.
To start with, the fruit's skin condition, color, shape, and size all affect shelf appeal. Then the eating experience can depend on the fruit's firmness, texture, and sugar content. And to complicate things even further, consumer preferences about fruit color and sweetness differ from one export market to another.
Packhouses have traditionally kept their customers happy by packing only the fruit they are sure will meet quality requirements and by rejecting fruit of borderline quality. But this too often leads to fruit ‘giveaway’ which hurts packhouse profits. More money could be made if the packhouse finds a way to deliver the required product quality and quantity while simultaneously maximizing yields: a balancing act that demands precision.
As packers tread this tightrope, the stakes are dizzyingly high. Global exports alone are worth more than $7 billion annually – and rising. In established markets, more consumers turn to healthy, natural, vitamin-rich foods, making citrus fruits more popular. In emerging markets, growing numbers of people are earning middle-class incomes and spending more on food. And greater use is being made of citrus fruits for flavoring and coloring in bakery products and fruit beverages. For these reasons, citrus sales are expected to keep rising in value at a compound annual growth rate of 4% so that by 2030 exports will be worth about $10 billion.
Click here to read the full press release.
For more information:
Research Park Haasrode 1622
Romeinse straat 20
3001 Leuven - Belgium
Tel.: +32 (0)476 74 19 18