ORANGE JUICE: CONCERNS ABOUT A POSSIBLE SHORTAGE OF REFRIGERATORS AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

ORANGE JUICE: CONCERNS ABOUT A POSSIBLE SHORTAGE OF REFRIGERATORS AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

At historic lows, global juice stocks are at their lowest levels ever, as a result of climate change and the resulting extreme events occurring around the world.

As economist Dr. Andreas Koutoupis reports, the disease called Citrus Greening, the incurable “green citrus disease”, as it could be translated, is destroying more and more trees every day in the Americas and Brazil, the countries with the largest and most productive orange farms in the world. “When a plant is affected by Greening, very quickly it stops photosynthesizing, its fruits become increasingly scarce, the roots weaken instead of growing and eventually the tree… dies,” explains Dr. Koutoupis, noting that all these problems have resulted in skyrocketing prices on the world juice exchange.

THE FLUCTUATIONS OF THE FCOJ

He goes on to point out that frozen concentrated orange juice, known globally as FCOJ (i.e. Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate) has historically experienced strong fluctuations anyway. These are the well-known juice ‘icicles’, the main product yielded by the industrial processing of orange fruit, which are essential for the production of almost all orange juice of any kind throughout the world.

THE INDUSTRY’S RESPONSE

Wanting to cope with the dramatic price fluctuations, the orange juicing industry – not only in Greece but all over the world – has been trying to exploit the whole orange, and has been creating for decades by-products that give added value to citrus fruits and a solution to the production of better juices from both an economic and nutritional point of view. Such products, mainly derived from orange peel, are called Pulp Wash or WESOS or even Core Wash and, according to PhD chemist Eleni Hatzidakis, it seems that they could become the industry’s answer to the shortage of stocks currently being experienced worldwide. It is worth mentioning that these products do not fall short in nutritional value and have a lower sugar content. This is the main characteristic of orange peel, which can provide more amino acids, more soluble pectins and more fibre. However, the peel absorbs the pesticides used in agriculture, which requires industries to better manage pesticide residues, and is increasingly leading to the use of organic products and oranges from Eurogap or Globalgap certified farms. In any case, the use of such products by industry can provide sustainable solutions for the benefit of consumers without reducing the quality of the products they buy. WESOS or Pulp Wash products currently have a 70% relationship with the price of juice “ice cream”, while Core Wash products are even at 65% of the frozen concentrate on ice (FCOJ) price.

WHAT APPLIES IN GREECE

It is pointed out that currently in our country, in order to protect the Greek orange production and the juice industry, it has been legislated that finished juices and soft drinks must use a minimum of 20% of juice reconstituted from “ice colones”, while in Italy this percentage is 12%. In Germany the industry has freer rules and allows the use of Pulp Wash and Core Wash at the same time, while in England the obligation is for 5% but from the whole fruit and not just from the endocarp. In Latvia this percentage is 2%.

THE… POSSIBLE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR PRICE REDUCTIONS

As noted, the addition of pulp extracts and soluble whole fruit solids to orange juice is a solution that can offer the nutritional benefit of using whole fruit, but also economic viability to meet the diminishing orange juice stocks currently being recorded around the world. Such a development could also contain the costs paid by the consumer on the supermarket shelf, creating a window for a possible reduction in the price of juices, even by as much as 35%.