When life gives you ap­ples

LOW WASTE, MAX­I­MUM TASTE Meet the team mak­ing the world’s finest ap­ple juice.

Good - - GOOD + THE APPLE PRESS - Words Natalie Cyra

It may be star­tling to read that more than 120,000 tonnes of food goes into land­fills across New Zealand each year, with fruit and veg­etable grow­ers of­ten see­ing their fruit or veges go­ing to waste sim­ply be­cause of their imperfect shape.

But that won’t hap­pen on Hawke’s Bay ap­ple farmer Ross Beaton’s watch. His low-waste model turns the cos­met­i­cally blem­ished fruit oth­ers re­ject into sus­tain­ably sourced, sin­gle-pressed ap­ple juice.

Beaton started farm­ing ap­ples in 1982, which quickly led to him grow­ing 1200 acres of ap­ple trees, pro­duc­ing a cool cou­ple of hun­dred mil­lion ap­ples a year and ex­port­ing them to 45 coun­tries.

De­spite the suc­cess, there is an abun­dant sup­ply of ap­ples that don’t make the crates for ex­port mainly due to cos­metic im­per­fec­tions. These ap­ples – 13,000 tonnes a year to be ex­act – get crushed and sent to the pro­ces­sors. “They are ba­si­cally tak­ing the world’s best ap­ples and de­stroy­ing them,” Beaton says. So he set out to do some­thing more mean­ing­ful with the un­wanted fruit.

In a bid to avoid wast­ing “the world’s best” ap­ples, Beaton sought to start his own juice com­pany, known to­day as The Ap­ple Press.

The finest pro­duce

“New Zealand is the world’s best place to grow ap­ples and that’s a fact. We are the most in­no­va­tive coun­try, we have some of the best sci­en­tists. We thought ‘oh we’re sit­ting on po­ten­tially a golden goose here, why don’t we make the best ap­ple juices’,” says Beaton.

Pure busi­ness

The Ap­ple Press have launched with three ap­ple va­ri­eties to start – a brae­burn, a royal gala and a jazz juice. And there are plans afoot for more.

The Ap­ple Press juices are bot­tled down the road from the trees on which the fruit is grown in a brand new, state-of-the-art fac­tory. “The prove­nance of our fruit is im­por­tant to us, and we sim­ply refuse to add any­thing to it,” he says. “With The Ap­ple Press, you can not only trace all of these ap­ples to Hawke’s Bay, but to the or­chards they came from. And we also have a sus­tain­ably-sourced prod­uct, in re­cy­clable pack­ag­ing, that has no added su­gar or preser­va­tives.”

The first step to suc­cess, says Beaton, was con­nect­ing with food in­no­va­tion spe­cial­ist Sally Gal­lagher, who be­came the project man­ager turned in­no­va­tor and strate­gist for the busi­ness. Gal­lagher and Beaton worked tire­lessly on ways to cre­ate the purest form of ap­ple juice and a prod­uct that had sus­tain­abil­ity at its heart. Beaton says they found it par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to find the tech­nol­ogy they needed to pro­duce the ap­ple juice.

“Sally and I were stand­ing in the mid­dle of a pad­dock one day and we just looked at each other and said, ‘let’s build the fac­tory’.”

As na­ture in­tended

Nor­mal ap­ple juice from con­cen­trate is crushed three or four times, then heated with added en­zymes to crush all the sug­ars out. The Ap­ple Press juices, how­ever, are taken through a sin­gle press process.

“Most juice com­pa­nies treat ap­ples the way your grand­mother used to treat as­para­gus,” Beaton ex­plains.

“It’s cooked within an inch of its life ... We don’t do that,” he says. “We press the ap­ple once, to cap­ture all of the flavour and aro­mas of that ap­ple. It’s then ‘blanched’ and bot­tled. And that’s it.”

The Ap­ple Press juice range con­tains no wa­ter, no preser­va­tives, and no added sug­ars. “We have the world’s best in­gre­di­ent,” Beaton says. “Why not make the world’s best juice? It’s some­thing I’m proud of. Some­thing I stand by.”

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