2020 has been a year for change at JBT in Brazil, but for positive reasons rather than anything to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. Far from being deterred by the challenging circumstances, JBT is continuing to support processors and exporters by making a major investment in the expansion of its manufacturing and training facility.
Inaugurated in May 2020, the Araraquara, São Paolo-based facility has added an extra 1,7934 m2 to the existing 11,0421 m2 site (including an 1,0160 m2 expansion of the manufacturing center). JBT has also separately been investing in technologies to support customers in Brazil during the ongoing pandemic, including adding internet (iOPS Gateway) connectivity to existing JBT equipment to enable remote assistance, as well as introducing innovative PRoSIGHT smart glasses to the country to help JBT technicians diagnose problems from a distance.
Technological solutions Speaking at the opening of the Araraquara expansion earlier this year, JBT FoodTech Southern Hemisphere president J. Miguel Ruiz described the investment as an example of JBT’s “commitment to Brazil.” “The current changing situation favors companies that export and with that food exports have increased and become more profitable,” said Ruiz, who explained the new facility would meet customer demand for new technologies and investment plans during and following the pandemic.
“The investment in our Brazil manufacturing facility is a recognition of our competitiveness and the good work carried out by our team in Brazil over recent years,” he added.
Customers attend a workshop at the JBT Araraquara facility
Safety protocols Currently, the Araraquara site host both virtual tours of the facility and a limited number of in-person visits, providing a concise update of the latest JBT developments and a chance to see new JBT solutions and technologies in action. The facility has helped implement social distancing protocols, including a thermal camera for both employees and visitors. However, JBT is also preparing for post-pandemic life by bringing in new UHT sterilization solutions for Brazil’s expanding dairy sector, while making sure that customers are more connected with JBT than ever before.
JBT’s recent appearance at two of 2019’s most prominent produce trade events – Fruit Attraction 2019 in Madrid, Spain and PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California – was made even more significant by the fact that JBT’s Fresh Produce Technologies (FPT) business unit is this year celebrating its landmark 90th anniversary.
It is an achievement that John Siddle, JBT’s FPT Global Product Line Director, describes as a testament to the enduring quality of JBT solutions. “We’re excited about being in business for 90 years,” he says. “It speaks to the quality of what we produce and the longevity of our organization.”
From founder John Bean’s invention of a continuous spray pump to battle scale in his almond orchards through to the introduction of the world’s ﬁrst continuous rotary pressure sterilizer for processing low acid foods such as vegetables, the development of FPT can be traced through the history of JBT.
This commitment to developing new FPT solutions has continued with the Endura-Fresh™ line of coatings and the Freshgard™ decay control range, which can help improve product appearance, shelf-life, and guard against weight loss. More recently, JBT has brought on board two companies that can offer innovative solutions in fresh-cut machinery and produce packaging – FTNON and Proseal – both of which featured at PMA Fresh Summit 2019 and Fruit Attraction 2019.
According to John Siddle, much of this continued success can be traced to JBT’s technical expertise, which has allowed the company to adapt to the changing needs of the produce sector.
In particular, he says JBT’s FPT business has grown significantly over the past 20 years, almost doubling in size as a result of a move into produce labelling, fruit coatings and a focus on natural and water-based products.
Global expansion The growth in the FPT business unit over the past two decades can be traced back to the outbreak of citrus greening in JBT’s former core market for juice extractors, Florida, which prompted a shrinking of the industry and a move of much of the production to California. “We saw growth opportunities for other FPT solutions in other parts of the US and we have made strides forward with that,” says Siddle. These solutions included the introduction of the JBT Tall Bin Scrubber, which has become a valued tool for field bin sanitization and the Freshgard® Chemtrol Programmable Controller for safe, reliable and low-cost control of the pH and sanitizer level in re-circulating water systems.
However, another major factor was JBT’s desire to develop its FPT market share outside the bounds of the US by taking the solutions and technologies to customers worldwide. “We’re now a whole lot more global than we were 20 years ago and we keep expanding,” adds Siddle who identifies the Middle East and Asia as two key growth markets for the years to come.
Costa Rica es el mayor productor a nivel mundial de piñas MD2 destinadas a la exportación, y es el responsable de aproximadamente 75% del mercado. Aunque no es un fruto nativo del país centroamericano, Costa Rica se ha construido una magnífica reputación como productor y exportador de piña desde la década de 1970, un éxito que ha sido capaz de replicar en una amplia gama de sectores, tanto de productos frescos como procesados. Pero lo que quizás muy pocas personas conocen es el papel que desempeñó JBT en la historia de la piña costarricense y el fuerte lazo que la une al país y que sigue vigente hasta el día de hoy.
Distribuidora LARCE, empresa importadora, distribuidora y proveedora de sistemas y equipos especializados para una amplia gama de sectores, asentada en Costa Rica, ha sido pieza fundamental en la historia que tiene JBT con esa nación prácticamente desde el inicio, al contribuir y apoyar en el desarrollo de la marca JBT en industrias tan diversas como frutos frescos, lácteos y salsas de tomate.
Las primeras piñas LARCE es un negocio familiar de tres generaciones, fundado en 1949 por Alberto L Arce. Su hijo, Roberto L Arce Sr., estuvo al mando de la empresa hasta 2017, cuando Roberto Arce Jr. asumió el puesto de director general. La relación con JBT – entonces denominada FMC – comenzó unos años después cuando JBT prestó ayuda a LARCE en el combate contra la plaga de mosca de la fruta del Mediterráneo. Esta relación pasó a primer plano cuando, en 1965, la erupción del volcán Irazú cubrió de cenizas buena parte de la ciudad de San José. JBT proporcionó equipo que se utilizó en la limpieza de las calles y aeropuertos de la capital costarricense.
No obstante, se puede afirmar que el parteaguas fue la introduccción de la gama de recubrimientos de JBT distribuidos a través de LARCE, acontecimiento que coincidió con la entrada de Del Monte a Costa Rica y la llegada de piñas al país para su cultivo. «FMC ayudó a Del Monte a traer las primeras plantas de piña a Costa Rica y también le abasteció ceras naturales, las cuales seguimos proveyendo a los productores hasta el día de hoy», afirma Roberto Arce Sr.
(i-d) Roberto Arce Jr; Laura Arce; Roberto Arce Sr
Éxito continuo Actualmente bajo el mando de los hermanos Roberto Arce Jr. y Laura Arce, LARCE distribuye las soluciones de JBT a clientes como TicoFrut –procesadora de piña y naranja ubicada en la región de Alajuela, al norte de la capital– y Del Oro– especialista en jugos y concentrados ubicado en la provincia noroccidental de Gunacaste.
TicoFruit abrió la primera planta industrial de extracción de jugo en Costa Rica; LARCE contribuyó a esta fábrica con los primeros extractores de jugo de la empresa y, más adelante, con unallenadora ASEPTIC. «Surgió la necesidad de tener una llenadora ASEPTIC en la planta de TicoFruit, y ha sido un rotundo éxito», detalló Arce. «Los costos de operación son mucho menores que los de cualquier otra máquina de nuestros competidores».
De acuerdo con Arce, la gama de extractores Fresh’n Squeeze® de JBT, encabezada por la versión recién lanzada del exitoso Multi Fruit Juicer, también se ha visto favorecida en el país, tanto entre los grandes supermercados como con los pequeños productores de jugo.
Por tratarse de una empresa que vende, renta y da servicio al equipo y maquinaria, a Arce no le cabe duda de que LARCE seguirá beneficiándose de su vínculo tan cercano con JBT, relación que, él afirma, ha permitido a LARCE agregar valor a los productos que ofrece.
«Nuestro objetivo es brindar valor añadido y profesionalismo, desde el momento en que el equipo o la máquina está en desarrollo, hasta el servicio y la atención continuas durante la posventa», añadió Arce. «Esta estrategia nos ha permitido ganarnos la confianza de nuestra clientela».
Costa Rica is the leading producer of MD2 pineapples for export worldwide, accounting for an estimated 75% of the market. Although not a native fruit to the Central American country, Costa Rica has built up a formidable reputation as a pineapple producer and exporter since the 1970s; a success that has since been repeated in a variety of other sectors, both fresh and processed. But perhaps what fewer people are aware of is JBT’s role in the Costa Rican pineapple story and the strong connection with the country that endures to this day.
LARCE Distribution, a Costa Rica-based importer, distributor and servicer of specialist systems and equipment across a range of sectors, has been part of the JBT story in Costa Rica almost since the beginning, aiding and assisting the development of the JBT brand in industries as diverse as fresh fruits, dairy and tomato sauces.
(l-r) Roberto Arce Jr; Laura Arce; Roberto Arce Sr
First pineapples LARCE is a third generation family business founded by Alberto L Arce in 1949. His son, Roberto L Arce senior, managed the company until 2017 when Roberto Arce Jr took the position of managing director. The relationship with JBT – then known as FMC – started a few short years later when JBT assisted LARCE in the fight against the invasive Mediterranean fruit fly. The relationship also came to the fore in 1965 when the eruption of the Irazú volcano covered much of Costa Rica’s capital, San José, in ash. JBT-supplied equipment helped clean the streets and airports.
However, arguably the most significant development was the range of coatings supplied by JBT through LARCE, which coincided with the entry of Del Monte in Costa Rica and the arrival of the first pineapples for production in the country. “FMC helped Del Monte bring the first pineapple plants to Costa Rica, and also supplied them with natural waxes, which we are still supplying to producers to present day,” says Roberto Arce Sr.
Ongoing success Today managed by siblings Roberto Arce Jr and Laura Arce, LARCE supplies JBT solutions to customers including TicoFrut, an orange and pineapple processor based in Alajuela region north of the capital, and Del Oro, a juice and concentrate specialist located in north-western Guanacaste province.
TicoFrut was responsible for the first industrial juicing plant in Costa Rica; a facility LARCE contributed to with the company’s first juice extractors, and later an ASEPTIC filler. “There arose a need for an ASEPTIC filler at the TicoFrut plant and it has been a real success,” explains Arce. “The operating costs are far lower than any other piece of machinery from our competitors.”
JBT’s Fresh’n Squeeze® range of juicers – spearheaded by the recently-launched version of the successful Multi-Fruit Juicer – has also found favor in the country with large grocery retailers and small juice producers alike, according to Arce.
As a company that sells, rents and services equipment and machinery, Arce is in no doubt that LARCE will continue to benefit from its close relationship with JBT; a relationship which he says has enabled LARCE to add value to the products it supplies.
“Our purpose is added value and professionalism, from the moment the equipment or machinery is developed through to ongoing post-sales support and servicing,” adds Arce. “This approach has helped us gain the trust of our customers.”
Today’s global tuna industry is faced with multiple challenges, from the need to minimize environmental impact to the challenge of how to meet retailer and consumer demand with a limited stock of fish. Albert-Frans Brouwer, JBT’s Global Product Line Manager for Tuna, here examines the challenges the sector faces and explains what JBT is doing to help tuna processors overcome them.
If you look at the global tuna industry as it stands today, it is clear that it is a sector which faces multiple challenges. To maintain a healthy population of tuna in the world’s oceans the number of fish we can catch is limited and that’s not going to change. So if you want to be successful in the industry, the key focus has to be on improving the yield, turning as much of the catch into product that can be consumed by people. Next to this the tuna industry is increasingly focused on minimizing the environmental impact of processing.
Where can improvements be made? To do that we need to examine how tuna is processed from the fresh catch to eventually becoming the finished tuna product in a package, ready for consumption.
Along the way, there are a number of essential steps. After being caught, tuna typically comes frozen into port. The fish is pre-cooked, cleaned and cut into smaller pieces before going to a filler, which fills the pre-cooked tuna into cans. From there, the canned tuna goes to a filler-closer where oil or brine is accurately added on top of the tuna cake and the can is closed. In a final step the closed container is sterilized again after which the finished product is ready to go out to retailers.
JBT has a full range of product solutions for all the key process steps that serve tuna processors around the world. In recent years we have been very successful in the marketing of our filler portfolio in the Mediterranean region, with the focus on improving the efficiency of our solutions.
The JBT Tuna Filler series, which is designed to automatically add pre-cooked tuna into open-topped cans at high speed, has recently been augmented by a model that can fill three, 3 oz cans simultaneously, surpassing the industry-standards.
On top of that, for many years JBT has developed software that optimizes pre-cooking and sterilization parameters during processing, making sure the production potential of each of these stages is maximized. We evaluate the type of fish that comes in to make sure customers receive the best possible product after the process is completed.
Our focus at JBT is on the product quality and the environmental impact because that is going to be key to the future of the business. In particular we want to take a closer look at the pre-cooking stages because that’s where we believe we can offer new solutions to substantially reduce water consumption and a more sophisticated determination of processing conditions. We are also looking at ways in which we can we can integrate processing innovations from similar industries, such as poultry or meat.
I think it’s safe to say that although big challenges exist for today’s tuna industry, processors can be confident JBT will be working side-by-side to help meet them.
A version of this article was previously published by Dairy Reporter.com
JBT Food & Dairy Systems (JBT F&DS) has maintained a presence in the global dairy sector for over four decades, whether as a standalone business or as part of its former parent company Stork, working as a major supplier of sterilization and filling equipment to the European dairy industry. But following its acquisition by JBT in 2015, the Amsterdam-based company is preparing for a huge expansion in its activities, moving into new markets and integrating its technology into systems across the broader JBT business.
JBT F&DS has multiple product lines from processing – specifically sterilizing and pasteurizing dairy and juice products – to filling and blow molding systems. Products are sterilized using Sterideal®-branded UHT equipment, following which they can be stored in aseptic tanks before going on to aseptic fillers. JBT F&DS’s sterilization options run from 2,000 liters per hour up to 25,000 liters per hour, while tanks go from 10,000 liters up to 50,000 liters.
“It’s all about aseptic,” says Richard Groenendijk, JBT F&DS’s Director of Operations in Amsterdam. “Long-life products must be produced to commercially sterile conditions, so we’re focused on making all-aseptic equipment.”
Dairy – from long-life milk through to puddings, creams and dairy sauces – as well as high-end juices are the principal aims, although Groenendijk says JBT F&DS has also supplied equipment for a range of food products, including sauces containing beans, tomato sauce products and soups, and even nutraceuticals (low acid products with high protein and vitamin content).
JBT F&DS can supply shelf stable solutions for juices as well as dairy
Larger network Traditionally, JBT F&DS’s client base has been concentrated in Europe and in particular on long-life milk countries in the south, such as Spain, Portugal and Italy, which Groenendijk describes as classic UHT dairy countries – although puddings and other dairy products also have a strong market in Northern Europe.
“The origin of UHT equipment dates back to the 1960s, so we have a large installed base with many of our customers making repeat orders because they know us and the equipment,” he says.
For the last 20-30 years, JBT F&DS has also had a strong presence in Latin America – principally Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, all of which are growth markets for the company. Over the last 10 years, JBT F&DS has also invested in South East Asia and is growing strongly there.
“We have a very strong Customer Care business in dairy, mainly from UHT equipment – about 30-40% of our turnover is post sales Customer Care – but being integrated into JBT will make us even stronger and give us a greater presence worldwide with far more field service engineers,” says Groenendijk.
JBT F&DS’s Richard Groenendijk
Technology integration JBT F&DS’s integration into JBT will progress further during the course of 2017, with the company’s technology set to be introduced into equipment supplied by A&B Process Systems, the US-based stainless steel process system specialist also acquired by JBT in 2015.
“A&B Process Systems is strong in the mixing and blending of products – their clients, for example, use a milk base to which is added a strawberry or chocolate flavor, then sent to a UHT to be sterilized, so we are working on product integration with A&B,” explains Groenendijk.
“We make heat exchange technology that has no couplings in it – our competitors have tube-in-tube heat exchanges which typically use a six meter-long tube, a coupling, and then another six meter-long tube,” explains Groenendijk.
“This is important because each coupling is an aseptic risk – a coupling can leak and if they leak you can have bacteria entering your product, so having long tubes without couplings is an advantage when it comes to building heat exchangers.”
In conjunction with JBT’s operation in Parma, Italy, the F&DS technology is being integrated into existing JBT systems, meaning that it could soon be in practice in sectors where the former company has not previously had a notable presence, including fruit and juice sterilization.
Expansion focus JBT F&DS’s ambitions for its processing systems business are echoed in its other principal area of business, filling and blow molding, where it is expanding beyond its original focus into new markets under the leadership of Patrick de Groot, Aseptic Systems Product Line Manager.
JBT F&DS (formerly Stork Food & Dairy Systems) has been a major supplier of sterilization and filling equipment to the European dairy industry since the 1960s. In fact, de Groot comments that taking one market as an example, in this case the UK, an estimated 80% of milk bottles in the country are filled using SFDS equipment.
Patrick de Groot
Over the course of the years, with the advent of new technology, JBT F&DS has moved into aseptic technology – the technique whereby liquids are subjected to a high temperature for a few seconds to kill potentially harmful bacteria before cooling and filling into retail packaging – and is now a leading supplier of the systems to dairy companies.
Through such approaches, he says JBT F&DS is able to supply long life, shelf stable solutions for dairy and juice makers, with the advantage that the products can be subsequently stored almost anywhere for a relatively long period of time.
An estimated 80% of glass milk bottles in the UK are filled using JBT F&DS equipment
Safety a priority De Groot, who has a background in mechanical engineering, originally joined F&DS after writing his graduate thesis on the company, starting in the marketing department before moving into business operations. Since assuming responsibility for JBT F&DS’s sterilization business, de Groot has concentrated on areas where the company’s technology could be applied outside its traditional dairy business.
JBT F&DS is now studying how such technologies can be across sectors in other parts of the world. In the case of the US, he says JBT F&DS is already well established with US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its aseptic filling equipment. “In the US we’re looking for a way to support that process and work with US dairy farmers,” he says.
However, the approach JBT F&DS takes to this and other new markets is likely to be different to the past. Over the course of the past two years, de Groot says JBT F&DS has moved from being an engineering company to a build-to-order specialist, which configures specific machines for specific customers using proven technology.
Ensuring food safety, he says, is also of crucial importance to the company, explaining that JBT F&DS follows rules and regulations that are very much in line with FDA principles. “We are one of the only companies in the world that is able to offer sterility rates that are far beyond those that are typically seen in the industry,” de Groot says.
JBT F&DS’s UHT systems could soon be in action worldwide
Change in emphasis In terms of markets, de Groot says there are virtually no limitations on where JBT F&DS is able to supply, although he says the US, China, Thailand and Indonesia have assumed particular importance over recent years.
Although still important, de Groot says demand in Europe has slowed during the past decade, while JBT F&DS now receives orders from as far afield as Zimbabwe, Australia and New Zealand. This change in emphasis, he explains, is partly down to JBT F&DS’s effort on long-life dairy and juice products, meaning demand tends to be greater in countries where such products are typically consumed such as Spain and Italy, rather than the likes of the UK where fresh remains dominant.
So what has changed at F&DS since being acquired by JBT Corporation in summer 2015? According to de Groot, being part of JBT is giving F&DS access to an established international sales network. “We are a company based in Amsterdam that was part of the Stork industrial group, and as such it was a challenge to service our customers throughout the world – with JBT, we have access to a larger footprint worldwide with sales and service that is close to our customers,” he explains.
Although it remains strong in the dairy sector, JBT F&DS has moved into the juice market in a major way over the last few years to the extent that 30-40% of the aseptic fillers that it manufactures are now destined for juice processors. JBT’s years of working with the juice sector have served JBT F&DS well, adds de Groot, who explains that its new parent company’s knowledge, expertise and contacts within the industry have been of huge benefit to JBT F&DS.
Worth over US$53 billion in 2015 and expected to top more than US$76 billion by 2021, baby food is a rapidly developing category worldwide for infants (4-12 months) and toddlers (12-36 months). With many new mothers returning to work shortly after giving birth, prepared baby foods provide a nutritious, convenient substitute, with packaged foods such as baby rice, fruit or vegetable purees delivering quick and easy alternatives to home-cooked meals.
Safe solutions JBT’s latest White Paper focuses on filling and sterilization technologies for baby food packed in glass jars, examining how JBT supports processors to market high quality, safe baby food products while at the same time producing at the lowest cost per glass jar. Not only the most transparent way to showcase contents, glass jars are also associated by consumers with high quality baby food products – adding an extra touch of class to purees and other foods.
JBT’s Unifiller is a product that is ideally suited to the baby food market’s needs. Every baby food product has its own requirements when it comes to filling, whether it be a liquid, smooth or viscous recipe containing sensitive particles. With a design and parts that are customized according to processors’ needs, the Unifiller is capable of ensuring accurate filling for whatever the baby food might be, making it the perfect solution for this high-value category.
Food safety and product quality are essential factors in the baby food industry and the need to achieve this without compromising nutritional and sensory characteristics are of huge importance.
Ensuring food safety while at the same time minimizing any impact on product quality is a challenge for effective in-container thermal sterilization, but it is one that JBT has perfected in the Hydromatic® high-capacity hydrostatic sterilizer and in batch retort units. Through limited-time, high temperature cooking and rapid, efficient cooling, these systems ensure products receive exactly the same thermal process for consistent quality, while at the same time preventing under or over-processing. The reduced processing time also helps preserve the product’s natural flavor, nutrients and appearance.
The JBT Hydromatic® sterilizer and JBT batch retorts are flexible sterilization systems that can be easily adjusted to suit different recipes and packaging sizes, meaning they can comfortably handle a whole range of baby food products.
JBT Corporation’s acquisition of Wisconsin-based A&B Process Systems in October 2015 will surely come to be viewed as a major step forward for both companies. The integration of the business has not only helped JBT offer a more complete, one-stop product solution, it has also enabled A&B to expand globally.
Troy Weik, A&B’s Director of Operations, who began his career as a process engineer, and advanced through the organization into his current position, explains how the changes undergone by the company are revolutionizing the way A&B works.
In what ways has A&B changed since it became part of JBT?
Troy Weik: The biggest change has been the ability to take A&B globally, which was a long-time goal of ours. A&B had been primarily a domestic supplier, especially in engineering, installation and automation services, with some manufactured goods being shipped overseas by US customers including Nestlé and General Mills.
A&B’s Troy Weik
The acquisition has brought the ability to grow and expand our offerings. Over the last year, we’ve been getting connected with the different JBT facilities around the world for us to understand their capabilities and, they, our capabilities. In the past, A&B has been limited up to the point of further processing, packaging and filling. We didn’t have the expertise, but now combined with JBT’s product offerings, we are able to bring a total solution to our customers.
What synergies is A&B benefitting from with other JBT businesses?
We’ve gained good traction in that area. We have several opportunities right now where we have batch retorts that we want to combine with our product line, as well as the packaging and filling applications, so we can propose it as a complete solution to customers.
A&B has engineering expertise on anything that’s pumpable, whether that be in food, dairy, confectionery or pharmaceuticals, we have experience in those areas. Clean In Place (CIP) is also an area where we’re very strong that we’re trying to integrate with other JBT products.
“Combined with JBT’s product offerings, we are able to bring a total solution to our customers”
Whereas in the past, JBT sold specific products like fillers and retorts, getting the processed ingredients to those points and cleaning the systems was beyond the scope of supply. These are areas of expertise for A&B so now we can provide CIP equipment, engineering and design, and automation systems to integrate the facilities in order to provide a one-stop shopping experience to our customers.
What further opportunities do you see for A&B in liquid foods?
We’re looking at different opportunities within the tomato market, which is a strong area for JBT. Additionally, we’re looking to pursue opportunities in aseptic processing, another strong JBT product line – they have the sterilization expertise and we have the vessels, process piping, mixing and blending systems, which are utilized to provide a complete process solution.
“Over the next 12 months, we expect to see more of an expanded global integration for A&B”
We’re also exploring more in terms of juicing systems, which is where our association with JBT began. The reason JBT found A&B is we worked on a sweet potato juice processing facility with them – the first one either of us had ever done. That’s a new market and there are more ready-to-drink opportunities they are pursuing that we can assist with.
Looking ahead, how might A&B’s role within JBT develop further?
We’re in central Wisconsin, which is the hub of dairy processing, and we’ve been working in that market for several years. Similar to JBT, we are also well established in the food, beverage, and meat industries. We are looking forward to introducing JBT to the pharmaceutical industry by continuing to be a key partner for our customers – providing our modular skidded systems and vessels, as well as installation capabilities, to the marketplace.
Over the next 12 months, we expect to see more of an expanded global integration for A&B with JBT facilities worldwide, taking more of our product lines to global markets and expanding our installation capabilities beyond US borders. That’s a major priority for us, as well as insourcing more JBT products from a manufacturing standpoint.
Over the last decade JBT’s juice processing business has undergone a transformation that has taken the company from principally being a technology provider to the citrus processing industry to a global leader in the liquid foods field, offering solutions across the juice sector into dairy, canned foods, nutraceuticals and beyond.
Donn Sabato, JBT’s US Liquid Foods Sales Manager, is well qualified to speak about the radical changes that the company has undergone over recent years, having helped oversee much of JBT’s development in its domestic market.
Juice extraction leader
For much of its history, citrus processing has been at the core of JBT’s business, with the company leasing juice extraction equipment to businesses across the globe; in fact, Sabato estimates that JBT’s juice extractor accounts for approximately 75% of the world’s citrus juice production.
“We’re in all the countries – the US, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Spain – wherever there is citrus, there is JBT citrus extraction technology,” he says.
“What that entails is a machine that is never purchased by the customer – it’s a lease where we retain the asset, and we provide both service and the parts. That was, and continues to be, one of our core product lines.”
JBT also manufactures the ancillary equipment that goes around the extractor, from belt conveyors, bucket elevators, graders and sizers through to fruit handling equipment that feeds the extractors. And once the citrus has been juiced, JBT provides by-product recovery systems for pulp, valuable d-Limonene oil and other key ingredients.
But while such technologies remain among JBT’s core competencies, the onset of the citrus greening disease and its negative impact in particular on Florida’s citrus industry encouraged the company to look beyond citrus into other fruit and vegetable juice processing opportunities.
“We are growing both vertically and horizontally, not just in the juice sector, but also in markets other than those which we have historically served,” he explains.
While protecting its core market – citrus – Sabato says JBT has been exploring other liquid foods, fruit and vegetables, and increasingly dairy solutions and nutraceuticals.
He says JBT’s move into non-citrus fruit and vegetable juice markets was partly influenced by negative press coverage that affected orange juice sales.
“There have been a lot of attacks against carbonated beverages because of their high sugar content – orange juice has a high, natural sugar content as well as a lot more vitamins and minerals – but the press has lumped all sugary beverages together and negatively affected the amount of orange juice people are drinking,” explains Sabato. “This has opened up the doors to other fruits and vegetables as well as alternative beverages.”
With the mergers and acquisitions, Sabato says the Liquid Foods business is now able to offer a more comprehensive package, adding that the company will continue to add to its portfolio, while also aiming to grow both organically and through new additions.
“We now offer pasteurizers, sterilization equipment, blending systems and skid mounted tank systems, which control, for example, how much cranberry juice is metered in to make a drink.
“Prior to merging with Stork Food & Dairy we only supplied bulk aseptic filling systems, meaning either in a 55 gallon drum or a 300 gallon aseptic bag-in-box, but now we can also fill individual retail bottles. The consolidation with our filling, closing, in-container sterilization business means we are also now in retorts, rotaries and hydrostatic sterilizers. In fact, over 50% of canned foods globally are processed through JBT’s sterilization technology.”
He adds: “We’re keeping our eyes on all of the new technologies for juice products and other liquid and canned food segments – where is the next generation of retail product? Is it going to be a pouch? Will it continue to be in cans or will it be in plastics? And, what is the best technology to make sure that product is safe for the marketplace? Where is the next piece of the puzzle that will fit in with what we’ve been building?
“Three to four years ago, the juice processing business of JBT had sales shy of US$150 million but through organic growth and acquisition our Liquid Foods portfolio has now trebled – so we’ve got a good track record and we feel good about the future.”