Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Trade Winds Citrus Limited, producers of the Tru-Juice brand of juices is begging local farmers to plant more oranges as it is willing to purchase any amount they can grow.
The company is moving for an even bigger share of the local market in orange juice but it needs farmers to produce more of the fruit.
Orange juice, heads the ever-growing list of 17 juices produced by Trade Winds but managing director of the company Peter McConnell says the popular otaheite apple juice will be re-introduced in two weeks.
"Trade Winds Citrus Limited (TWCL) buys all the fruit and vegetables that it can from local framers to use in its products but the amount obtained from local sources varies from product to product," said McConnell.
"Each year, TWCL buys oranges from more than 110 farmers, spending approximately $80M and TWCL buys all available oranges. We can't get enough oranges," added McConnell.
He said the company does not import any of the fresh fruits it processes at its St Catherine based plant as it must always be in a position to assure customers about food security and crop protection.
According to McConnell the company blends and bottles between 70,000 and 95,000 gallons of juice each week with demand higher during the hot summer months.
"Lighter, more refreshing juices, including Tru-Tea (iced-tea) do very well at this time and when you look at a graph of sales, the summer months is a peak period for sales," he said.
Market trends, also shows high levels of consumption during the festive seasons.
"The supply chain for citrus in Jamaica is well established. In other words, the citrus farmers know when and where to send their fruit for processing and the citrus processor knows when and where to source their fruit supply," said McConnell.
According to the TWCL boss, quality and pricing mechanisms are clearly defined and accepted by the industry.
McConnell said the company has three different facilities that process fruit into "value added products."
At the citrus packing house, fresh citrus fruits are washed, selected, waxed, sized and packaged for sale in various packages.
However at the citrus concentrate plant, fresh citrus fruit, are squeezed, and the juice put through an evaporator that boils off 85 per cent of the water in the juice.
The concentrated orange juice is then put into drums and stored frozen for use outside of orange season.
McConnell explained that fresh oranges that are suitable for making quality juice are only available during the season which runs from January to July in Jamaica.
"When the water that was removed has been added back, the orange juice has been re-constituted to its original state," said McConnell as he explained the use of the fruit concentrate.
The downside is that the juice made from the concentrate is not as tasty as when the juice is made from the fresh fruit.
"That is why our freshly squeezed product is so outstanding and fish is so nice at Hellshire Beach," argued McConnell.
At the puree plant, fresh tropical fruits and vegetables are washed, selected and the pulp extracted and stored into drums and stored frozen for use outside of the particular season.
The fruits and vegetables currently being handled at the puree plant are sorrel, June plum, carrots, otaheite apple, mangoes, and ginger.
McConnell said the supply chain for the puree plant is not as well established with all the potential fruits and vegetables.
"It is however a matter of time and effort to get it developed. As with anything new, it takes time to work out the kinks."
However, the supply chain for some, including sorrel, June plum and carrot have become reasonably well established, with the supply from local farmers allowing the company to meet customers needs.
Tru-Juice's 17 flavours
Guava Pineapple with Ginger
100% Orange Juice - no sugar added (NSA)
100% Apple Juice - NSA
100% Grapefruit Juice - NSA
100% Pineapple Juice - NSA
June Plum with Ginger
Sorrel with Ginger
100% Ortanique - NSA
100% Fruit Punch - NSA
Soursop with Lime