The purest of fruit
Alfa Laval’s Foodec decanters bring relief to puree and juice producers struggling to eliminate the black specks in their mango products.DATE 2022-02-03 AUTHOR Anna McQueen
Who could say no to a mango? With its divine colour, fragrant aroma and succulent flesh, the mango tempts even the fussiest of eaters. Although the mango only arrived in Europe in the 1800s, after the British colonization of India, it is one of the oldest cultivated fruits in Asia, with a history going back some 4,000 years.
India, where the mango in all its many varieties is the national fruit, is the world’s largest producer of mangoes with a production of 12 million tonnes in 2009, half of the total world production of 24.4 million tonnes (source: FAO), yet it accounts for under one percent of the global mango trade. This minimal export is in part due to the huge domestic mango market, but with international demand for mangoes growing, the Indian agricultural sector, which employs more than 60 percent of the country’s workforce, is seeing an opportunity to develop the export potential of this most popular fruit.
The challenges to the consistent production of mango puree and juice commodities include periodical climatic problems such as hurricanes and flooding as well as neglect in orchard management and irregular bearing tendencies (the tendency for mango trees to bear a heavy crop one year and little or no crop the following year) in commercial varieties. But one constant problem shared by all mango juice and puree producers is the issue of tiny black specks in the product.
The black specks found in mango juice are caused by a number of factors ranging from blemishes on the surface of the fruit to fragments of pits, insects in the mango pits and particles left in the juice from the mango stems. Although these black specks are perfectly natural, juice and puree producers are clearly aiming to sell the best-looking fruit products they can, so it is desirable to remove as many specks as possible. This is where Alfa Laval steps in with its range of Foodec decanters.
Alfa Laval’s Foodec decanters can easily be incorporated into existing production lines, where they enter the process after the fresh mangoes have been washed, brushed and sorted, peeled and de-stoned, refined and sterilized, and then packed in aseptic bag-in-drum packaging. The decanters have a grooved bowl with a steep cone to decant the pulp or puree and to remove any foreign bodies, and tests have shown significant improvements in black speck reduction.
A speck rate of three per 10 grams of juice or puree is considered acceptable, but Alfa Laval’s Foodec decanters have reduced this to a barely perceptible two specks per 10
grams for the 75 percent of Indian mango puree producers who have moved over to this technology.
In southern India, Rassa Food Ltd, one of India’s leading mango juice and pulp producers, acquired an Alfa Laval Foodec decanter in 2009. “We are extremely happy with our purchase, and it has made a big difference to our products,” says Ramana Reddy, managing director of Rassa Foods. “Currently we are turning out some 7,000 tonnes of mango pulp annually with one line. We’re planning to add another line in 2010 and will certainly be adding another Foodec decanter to it.”
“Some of our clients had been losing up to half their harvest because they had more than the maximum three specks per 10 grams in their mango-based products,” explains Tom Thane Nielsen, communication manager for food technology at Alfa Laval. “Our Foodec decanters create a turbulence in the rotation that separates solids from liquids, making this technology the best solution for this processing requirement.”
Fruit pulp producer Lion Group based in the eastern part of the country, is another satisfied Foodec client. “We’re seeing more business due to the significant reduction of
brown and black specks in our mango pulp, so we’re very happy with our decanter,” says Managing Director Mehul H Maru. Lion Group produces around 3,000 tonnes of
mango puree every year, mainly from Kesar and Alphonso varieties. “The service we have received has been extremely good, and the decanter is very reliable, meaning we can offer continuous production,” he says.
Indeed, the success of the Alfa Laval Foodec solution is such that orders are flooding in from Indian mango puree and juice producers. “Our Foodec decanters have simply to be fine-tuned into the existing mango production line, with flow speeds and bowl rotation adjusted to suit the variety of mango being processed. Customers who have
acquired them are delighted, as fewer specks mean higher prices and a much cleaner product than before,” says Thane Nielsen. “Compared with other technologies for
speck removal, the Foodec decanter is the most suitable and unique solution on the market today. It is also a very cost-effective solution with a very short pay-back time.”
From harvest to sale
Raw fruit arrives at the production line, where it is washed, brushed and inspected for any blemished or unripe fruits. Machines are used to peel, de-stone and extract the pulp.
The resulting mash is heated to 80–95 degrees Celsius for maximum yield extraction, then refined and put through the Foodec decanter for speck removal. The juice can then be concentrated in an evaporator before being sterilized and aseptically packaged.
Alfa Laval Foodec decanters have an optional “complete purge enable” system that blankets the product with a protective gas and prevents air from entering the chamber and thus oxidizing the pulp or juice.
Through larger and more consistent yields of juices and purees with improved quality, sales can be increased. Thus the cost of the investment in a decanter can normally be paid back in one production season.