#AfricaLeads: Shifting to sustainable global food production

The IFU Juice Conference is a global gathering of producers to find ways to shift to more sustainable global food production, says Bo Liedberg, sales manager, TetraPak Egypt and East Mediterranean.

The IFU Juice Conference is the most significant event for the global juice industry outside Europe, with presentations covering trends, innovations and international case studies, as well as sustainability within the sector. Held last month near Cape Town, it attracted delegates from around the world.

The conference was hosted together with the South African Fruit Juice Association (SAFJA) in Somerset West, near Cape Town. Bo Liedberg, sales manager, Tetra Pak Egypt and East Mediterranean, spoke about the goal of sustainable global food production. He looked particularly at how juice manufacturers can re-evaluate pasteurisation temperatures, to reduce product losses – and by so doing reduce the impact on the environment. The control of climate change is inseparable from efficiency in production, which consequently has a positive impact on operational costs once the capex is invested. This requires companies to adopt a total cost of ownership approach.

Uncontrolled production

He offered practical suggestions on means to control the degradation of certain high acid products, which in the absence of controls has the effect of producing: Yeast, through gas production (CO2) and ethanol; Mould, where there is no gas production; Lactic acid bacteria where there is a lowering of pH and no gas production; as well as Enzymatic-Cloud loss.

The breakpoint between high-and low-acid food products is pH 4.6, with products such as the fruits apple, grape, orange, pineapple, and grapefruit having the highest pH levels (and high acid); while products having a lower acid and pH level beverages include tomato and other vegetable juices, he noted.

Liedberg indicated minimum temperatures that should be employed for the heat treatment of various products, and thereafter explored some of the concerns associated with uncontrolled production.

He cautioned that the avoidance of bacteria was best achieved through the adoption of a clean and hygienic design of the building and production process, noting that bacteria find shelter in any number of places. These he listed as being food residues; bad gaskets; bad welds; human skin flakes; paper dust; water droplets; hair; soil; and textile fibres. He described a best practice production concept based on proven solutions in the food category of beverage for a flexible high-performance line.

Investment on pause

Liedberg suggested that the greatest challenge to the industry meeting the goal of food sustainability, has in recent years been a reluctance by investors consequent to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with all its uncertainty and restrictions. He noted a reluctance by investors to lift their fingers off the pause button until it is clearer what the future holds.

Yet Tetra Pak has identified much opportunity through its constant innovation. “We see new opportunities on the horizon, as our customers increasingly search for ways to lead a healthier lifestyle, and this trend has accelerated during the spread of COVID-19 and thereafter. We hope our best-practice production philosophy and product innovation can help customers capture the growth opportunities in a more cost-efficient way,” he said.


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