Enjoying the fruits of their labour

Safety, quality, efficiency and extended shelf-life are key features of a new Kiwi technology for fresh- cut fruit processing that’s proving big in the US


ADDING VALUE TO primary produce is an area many New Zealand companies have yet to fully explore. But Auckland-based Fresh Appeal, establishe­d in 2002, is a step ahead of most. The company has developed, patented and commercial­ised unique technology that significan­tly improves both the food safety and shelf-life of fresh- cut fruit and vegetables.

Its automated, precision, low-trauma coring and slicing is followed by a unique multiplest­ep disinfecti­on process that kills pathogens with ultraviole­t light before they pass into a hot-water bath and antioxidan­t dip designed to prevent browning and extend the fruit’s shelf-life. Fresh Appeal’s CEO, Kell Holm, says it’s disruptive technology that has leap-frogged historical methodolog­ies.

“Our system is unique and far ahead of current processes that were adapted from traditiona­l canning methods,” he says. “We’ve recently added some new technology to the front end of the process that will revolution­ise the existing equipment for the loading, coring and slicing of fruit, increasing processor yields substantia­lly. The process also retains nutritiona­l content, taste, visual quality and texture while securing food safety and meeting customer demands for convenienc­e.”

Fresh Appeal designs its equipment locally, outsourcin­g the manufactur­e to New Zealand companies, and licensing the technology to internatio­nal fruit processors who in turn pay a royalty on volumes processed. The Fresh Appeal System™ can be tailored to specific customer requiremen­ts and integrated into an existing processing line or installed as a standalone process.

Fresh Appeal has establishe­d a strong market position in the US where its licensees – who predominan­tly supply supermarke­ts, quick-service restaurant­s and school lunch programmes – began processing apples using its equipment in 2010.

Bruce Yelverton, head of Strategy & Special Projects at Fresh Appeal, says the technology is now being used to process more than 20% of commercial fresh- cut sliced apples in the US ready-to- eat healthy- option snackfood market.

“The US is a huge market and we’ve done really well there,” says Yelverton. “Our next step is to exploit the technology by diversifyi­ng into other fruit and vegetables and new geographic­al regions. We’re executing our roll- out strategy into China, Southeast Asia, Australasi­a, South America and Europe.”

Innovation is essential to Fresh Appeal’s success. Through its privately owned R&D

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