Extended Shelf Life for Juice with OptiCept’s PEF Technology According to CREA Study

The Italian research organisation CREA, (Council for Agricultural Research and Economics), confirms extended shelf life and quality improvements for freshly pressed juice. Using OptiCept’s PEF technology, they have managed to extend the shelf life of blood orange juice by 15–20 days while improving the nutritional values.

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In recent years, a noticeable shift has taken place in the beverage industry as consumers become increasingly health-conscious and seek out products that support their wellness goals. Among these trends, the demand for high-quality, nutritious fresh juices has surged.

These juices, often cold-pressed and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, are seen as a convenient and tasty way to enhance one’s diet. However, despite this growing interest, the market is not as flooded with premium juice options as one might expect.

What are the barriers holding back juice producers from meeting this demand? 

From technological hurdles and production costs to supply chain complexities and market competition, juice producers face numerous challenges.

Fortunately, emerging technologies like Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) processing offer promising solutions. PEF is a non-thermal method that uses short bursts of high-voltage electricity to improve juice extraction, retain nutrients, and extend shelf life without compromising flavor or quality. In this blog post, we’ll explore the obstacles faced by juice producers and delve into how PEF technology could revolutionize the industry, enabling more producers to deliver the high-quality juices that health-conscious consumers crave.  

By understanding these obstacles and the potential of PEF, we can better appreciate the efforts behind the bottles of high-quality juice that do make it to our shelves and perhaps see a path forward for more producers to join this healthy movement. 

Consumers are increasingly more interested in high nutritional fresh juices. Several factors contribute to this trend.  

For example: 

Health and Wellness Trends

A growing awareness of health and wellness leads consumers to seek out beverages that offer nutritional benefits. Fresh juices, especially cold-pressed ones, are seen as a way to conveniently consume vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants cold-pressed, are seen as a way to consume vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants conveniently.

Clean Label and Natural Ingredients

Consumers are becoming more conscious about what goes into their bodies, preferring products with natural ingredients and no added sugars, preservatives, or artificial additives.

Convenience

The busy lifestyles of many consumers drive the demand for convenient yet healthy options. Fresh juices offer a quick way to get a nutrient boost without the need for extensive preparation.

Functional Beverages

There is an increasing interest in functional beverages that provide specific health benefits, such as improved digestion, enhanced immunity, or increased energy. Fresh juices that include ingredients like turmeric, ginger, and probiotics cater to this demand.

Environmental and Ethical Considerations

Sustainability and ethical sourcing are becoming important factors for consumers. Brands that promote organic, non-GMO, and locally sourced ingredients in their fresh juices appeal to environmentally conscious buyers.

Market research supports these observations. For instance, reports indicate a growing segment of the beverage market dedicated to health-focused drinks, including fresh juices. This trend is reflected in the increasing availability of fresh juice options in grocery stores, cafes, and specialty juice bars.

Overall, the rising interest in high nutritional fresh juices is part of a broader shift towards healthier, more mindful consumption patterns among consumers.

Consumers are increasingly more interested in high nutritional fresh juices. Several factors contribute to this trend like, health and wellness, clean label and convenience.

Fresh demand – a challenge for the juice industry

Despite the rising demand amongst consumers for fresh-like products, there are still challenges for producers to overcome.

While technologies like PEF offer significant benefits, their adoption is not yet widespread. Many producers continue to rely on traditional pasteurization methods due to familiarity and existing infrastructure.

It is also a supply chain challenge, sourcing fresh, high-quality ingredients consistently can be challenging. Seasonal variations, supply chain disruptions, and the need for rapid processing to maintain freshness all add complexity to production. Fresh juices, especially those without preservatives, have a shorter shelf life compared to processed alternatives. This increases the risk of product spoilage and waste, making inventory management more difficult.

Furthermore, high-quality juices often require premium ingredients, which can be more expensive.

Lastly, there is still a need for greater consumer education about the benefits of high-quality juices. Many consumers may not fully understand the nutritional differences between fresh, high-quality juices and more processed options, which can impact purchasing decisions.

Despite these challenges, the market for high-quality, nutritious juices is growing, driven by increasing health awareness and consumer demand. Producers who can navigate these obstacles and effectively communicate the benefits of their products are likely to succeed in this evolving market.

Using PEF for juice processing

Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) technology can significantly enhance the production of highly nutritional fresh juices. The technology offers several advantages that align well with the production of high-nutritional juices:

PEF (Pulsed Electric Field) Generator with treatment chamber
As the juice passes through the patented treatment chamber, it is subjected to PEF, which destroys and inactivates mold, yeast and bacteria. PEF boosts cellular release of minerals, vitamins, colors compounds, and other micronutrients enhancing quality substantially.The treatment is continuous and retrofitted into existing extraction lines.

Retention of Nutrients

PEF helps preserve the nutritional content of juices by minimizing heat exposure, which can degrade vitamins, enzymes, and other beneficial compounds. This is particularly important for maintaining the freshness and health benefits of the juice.

Enhanced Juice Yield

By breaking down cell membranes more effectively, PEF increases the extraction of juice from fruits and vegetables. This leads to higher yields compared to traditional extraction methods.

Extended Shelf Life

PEF can inactivate microorganisms and enzymes that cause spoilage, thereby extending the shelf life of fresh juices without the need for preservatives. This ensures that the juices remain fresh and nutritious for longer periods.

Better Flavor and Color

The non-thermal nature of PEF helps preserve the natural flavor, color, and aroma of fruits and vegetables, resulting in a product that is more appealing to consumers. Deactivation of some enzymes by PEF also minimizes browning and enhances turbidity and cloudiness.

Energy Efficiency

PEF technology is generally more energy-efficient than conventional thermal pasteurization methods, making it a more sustainable option for juice production.

Versatility

PEF can be applied to a wide range of fruits and vegetables, enabling producers to create diverse juice blends that cater to various nutritional preferences and health trends.

Research and industry applications have demonstrated the effectiveness of PEF in juice production. Studies have shown that PEF-treated juices retain higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds compared to those processed by traditional thermal methods.

PEF will most likely be adopted by several juice manufacturers looking to meet the growing consumer demand for fresh, high-quality, and nutritious beverages.

In summary, PEF technology can play a crucial role in producing highly nutritional fresh juices by enhancing nutrient retention, increasing juice yield, improving shelf life, and preserving the sensory qualities of the juice. This makes it a valuable tool for manufacturers aiming to cater to health-conscious consumers.

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