The process behind fruit juice depends on whether the fruit juice is ‘from concentrate’ or ‘not from concentrate’. Let’s take orange juice as an example:
Not from concentrate
As with all fruit juices, the story of orange juice starts in the groves, where the fruit is grown. Local growers cultivate oranges until they are ripe and ready to be picked manually. Once the mature fruit is harvested, it goes straight to the factory where it is inspected – only ripe oranges are selected for orange juice. The inspection process goes quickly to ensure that the fruit retains all its natural vitamins and nutrients. At harvesting, oranges are washed before squeezing.
Once the juice is squeezed from the orange, it is rapidly pasteurised. This keeps the juice fresh longer, and is a widely accepted approach that protects its natural nutrients and maintains premium quality.
Here, the process has a few more stages. Depending on the technique, the juice is either heated by steam so the water in juice evaporates, or ‘ultra-filtrated’, and then concentrated using a reverse osmosis technique. Juice concentrate is born! Next, water is added back to the concentrate and blended to produce high-quality juice. Finally, the juice is pasteurised before packaging.
Regardless of the method used, fruit juice producers make sure to capture the fruit’s natural goodness and the qualities from the whole fruit from which the juice is squeezed. Not-from-concentrate juice and from-concentrate juice use the same fresh raw materials, and are both considered (by the European Commission’s definition) to be minimally processed fruit. After processing, the fruit juice is filled and packed in a way that helps protect its natural nutrients and quality.