Inspired by honeybees, introducing the world’s first shelf-stable fruit juice concentrate.
Have you ever noticed the complex, costly cold chain supply system honeybees use to make honey the sturdiest food in the world? Of course not. But stored in a cabinet, honey will literally last you a lifetime without losing any of its flavor or gorgeous color.
The bees got it right, so when True Essence wondered if we could make fruit juice just as sturdy and delicious as honey, we followed their lead.
The result is Fruit Nectar, a beautiful, shelf-stable juice concentrate that consumers already love, and sustainability-minded industrial clients are exploring.
The dawn of Fruit Nectar and some H2O science
The concept for Fruit Nectar began with three simple observations:
- Juice concentrate goes in the freezer.
- Maple syrup is kept in the refrigerator.
- But honey can sit for years in a cabinet.
The reason each of these foods has different storage requirements lies in their varying humidity levels.
- Juice concentrate contains an abundance of water and measures about 85% relative humidity.
- Maple syrup has a moisture-to-sugar concentration ratio that makes it ripe for mold growth.
- Honey is much dryer and measures about 55% relative humidity.
When a food item is 60% or higher relative humidity, bacteria, mold and other microorganisms can thrive, so juice concentrate is frozen to extend its life. Below 60% relative humidity, foods are aseptic. Honey is naturally dry enough that nothing will grow in it, so it’s shelf stable.
Food safety is only one prickly issue related to fruit. Even if you let juice concentrate sit out in a low-humidity kitchen in Arizona where nasty bacteria couldn’t breed, the juice’s high water content would eventually hurt the flavor due to basic chemical degradation.
That’s when the bee inspiration hit us, and we asked the big question: What if we could make juice concentrate at the same relative humidity as honey?
What would it look and feel like? Would it act like honey — easy to drizzle, bake with, and spoon into a cup of tea or onto toast?
To find out, we applied True Essence Foods’ first arc of innovation to solving any interesting problem: Test basic feasibility.
We started in 2020 with what we knew, using our existing technology to dry different fruit juices to achieve 60% relative humidity, but we soon learned that juice cooks and caramelizes before it can achieve aseptic qualities.
Then we developed a new technology that pulls moisture out of the air at any temperature — no heat required — and integrated it into our Flavor Symmetry process. We also figured out how to prevent unsightly air bubbles from forming in the glassy shades of scarlet, gold and cobalt concentrate. And we produced a few tablespoons of Fruit Nectar that looked and felt like honey. It was indeed feasible.
Then came our second arc of innovation: Test scalability.
Through trial and error, we developed a repeatable process capable of scaling daily production of Fruit Nectar to over 50,000 gallons per day.
But we also had to find out if it was marketable, so in June 2021, we started selling jars of tart cherry, peach and crisp apple Fruit Nectar to customers through our retail space and online shop. We were confident in our product with no added sugar and a flavor potency 20 times that of most jams or jellies. Once word got out about Fruit Nectar, we sold out of a few hundred jars in 45 minutes.
By July 2022, several food and beverage companies were either actively incorporating Fruit Nectar technology into their existing processes or exploring how to do so soon.
Among our current partners is Greenleaf Juicing Company, whose juice bars and restaurants are committed to using only the highest-quality, raw ingredients from organic farms. (Sign up for the True Essence newsletter for more soon on the Greenleaf story.)
Bees don’t need cold chain. And neither do you.
Taking a cue from bees, True Essence didn’t try to improve existing cold chain technologies to lower the carbon footprint and costs associated with traditional fruit concentrates.
Instead, we eliminated the need for cold chain altogether.
This is a major boon for companies like CPG manufacturers and grocery stores on multiple levels. For one, consider what it takes to get juice and juice concentrate to customers.
The $141 billion fruit juice market in the United States is handcuffed to a system that relies on gas-guzzling tankers and refrigerated trucks to move perishable fruit juice many thousands of miles from coast to coast each year. At production facilities and sprawling warehouses, temperature must be tightly controlled to maintain food safety and quality.
If a reading falls a few degrees, a shipment is delayed due to traffic, or some other critical factor doesn’t go according to plan, hundreds of thousands of gallons of juice — and profits — can be lost.
As a better alternative, True Essence Fruit Nectar offers:
- Greater Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: With no need for refrigeration at any stage of production or delivery, energy use and costs are cut at every step. Not only is this important to our world, but it’s what customers demand.
- Simplified inventory Management: Because shelf-stable Fruit Nectar maintains its flavor and consistency at room temperature, there is no need to buy only as much as you need or can keep in cold storage.
- More Process Security: Cutting out risk-bearing variables streamlines the process of getting juice from the fruit to the consumer.
Unlike honey, fresh fruit juice concentrate has always been fragile. True Essence Foods’ Fruit Nectar turns that long-held fact on its head, giving flavor-rich fruit juice shelf-stable strength.
Take the first step toward better flavor and sustainability. Contact us to have a conversation about Fruit Nectar.