Preservation of fruit and vegetables

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Fruit and vegetables are harvest-dependent seasonal products, available only during certain periods of the year, and characterised by a limited storage life. Therefore, they are often preserved in order to be able to supply fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Preservation refers to any treatment to increase the storage life.

Fruit juices and concentrate:

In the country of origin, water is extracted from the fruit, in order to maintain the quality, to prolong shelf life, and diminish the transport and storage costs. The residue is fruit juice concentrate. In the country of destination, the juice is restored to its original properties by adding water up to the original juice strength. According to EU Directive 93/45/EEC, fruit juice consists of juice without the addition of water. The fruit juice industry in particular uses (frozen) fruit concentrate. The directive also states that fruit nectar consists partly of fruit juice and partly of added water and sugar. The share of fruit juice in the nectar depends on the kind of fruit and varies between 25 percent and 50 percent. The directive is incorporated in the legislation of all European countries. The best-known and most-consumed fruit juice is orange juice. Apple, pineapple and grapefruit are other fruit species, which are the basis for popular fruit juices. Besides the beverage industry, the dairy, jam and confectionery industry takes up considerable volumes of fruit juices and concentrates. Although the majority of imports by EU member countries consist of fruit juice concentrates, trade figures cannot be split up between fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate. Therefore, in the remaining part of the survey, this product group will be referred to as fruit juice/concentrates.

Dried fruit and vegetable:

Fruit and vegetables, consisting of more than 80 percent of water, are dried in order to stop the multiplication of micro-organisms. These organisms obtain the water and nutrients they need for growth from the fruit or vegetable in which they grow. By drying or dehydrating fruit or vegetables, the water is removed from the food and from the bacterial cell, thus ending the multiplication. The dried fruit and vegetables described in this survey are whole, cut, sliced, broken or powdered, but not further prepared. Dried fruit can be divided into vine fruit and tree fruit. The best-known vine fruit species are raisins, sultanas and currants, whereas apples, apricots, bananas, dates, figs, papayas, peaches, pears and prunes are the most important tree fruits. Dried fruit is mainly used as a snack or a constituent for breakfast cereals, muesli, bakery products, dairy products and desserts. There is a separate CBI Market Survey ‘Dried Fruit and Edible Nuts’. Although some vegetables are sun-dried or field-dried, most vegetables are dehydrated industrially. The main dehydrated vegetables are onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and olives. The Netherlands Horticulture Commodity Board’s definition of dried vegetables is used in this survey, resulting in the exclusion of dried leguminous vegetables (for example, dried peas and beans). Please refer to CBI Market Survey ‘Grains & Pulses’ for market information on leguminous vegetables. The sauce, soup and ready meal industry are the main consumers of dried vegetables.

Frozen fruit and vegetable:

Freezing and deep-freezing is based on the same idea: turning water into ice so that bacteria cannot live and reproduce on the raw food product. The two processes are different. Freezing achieves low temperatures slowly, resulting in relatively large ice crystals, which damage the food cells. When defrosted, a part of the proteins, sugars and vitamins are removed by leaching. In the case of deep-freezing, low temperatures are quickly achieved, resulting in smaller ice crystals and consequently causing less damage to the food cells. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be blanched (to inactivate enzymes that might remain active even at very low temperatures, and affect structure and colour of the product) before freezing. The freezing of fruit and vegetables is increasing in popularity. Generally the quality of the frozen product is nearly the same as the original fruit. Of course higher transport and storage costs have to be taken into account. Frozen vegetables are mainly processed for ready meals, vegetable preserves and salads. Frozen fruit is processed into jam, muesli, canned fruits, bakery products and dairy products.

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