The company has developed a special process covering production and filling of such products, to ensure gentle treatment of such beverages when they contain whole fruit chunks.
To preserve the structure of the fruit chunks and avoid costly product losses, Krones said its specially developed process technology, Twin-Flow, ensured “stringent separation” between the juices or milk-based mixed drinks and the fruit chunks.
Juices or milk-based mixed drinks are treated to their own dedicated process, while fruit chunks, measuring up to 10 x 10 x 10 mm, are pasteurised in a separate shell-and-tube heat exchanger with interior cross-corrugated tubes.
Customer enquiries in Europe
The filling process utilises Krones’ new FlexiFruit pre-dosing equipment for fruit chunks or pulp, whereby fruit chunks are inserted into bottles before juice or a milk-based mixed drink are added to the main filler.
Asked how new the Twin-Flow concept was, Hans Hiendl, Krones’ director of filling technology, told BeverageDaily.com: “We have now approximately three lines in operations, and we sold the first line in the beginning of 2011.”
He said the trend towards incorporating fruit and vegetable piece into beverages – popular prior to now in the Far East and China – was arousing interest closer to home.
Hiendl said: “We see some developments on the market the near East – in Arabic states, so in Egypt and Morocco. We have a project with those products and we get a lot of enquiries concerning similar products and how they can be treated and hot-filled in the European market.”
“So Spain, France and also in Great Britain. We haven’t placed orders right now, but we have spoken with customers about such similar technologies.”
Product loss savings
So how did beverage processors avoid damage to fruit chunks prior to the launch of Twin-Flow? “Of course, people did it before, but not within such large volumes on the market. It was more commonly done with fibres, not with fruit pieces – in regard to random shapes or also dimensions like a 5 x 5 x 5mm quarter shape,” Hiendl said.
“Those beverages you didn’t see so much on the market. They were there, but not as much as today. So first of all, it’s a trend. Secondly, it was more common to have fibres in products – but not as per the Asian markets what we call ‘sacs’, fruit fibres from mandarins that are very sensitive to any mechanical stress.
“If you had some bigger parts within products, most of them have been filled by linear systems and by one-stream systems, with the risk of higher damage and also more product loss, especially concerning fruit pieces.”
Hiendl said: “But what are you doing if there is a problem and the filler has to stop – either upstream or downstream there is a break – then what are you doing with the product? In the case of a one-stream system (already blended products – fruit pieces and fruit juices) then you need to push it out.
“You will have a higher damage rate and product loss, especially for fruit pieces when you didn’t separate them,” he added.