As we approach the new year, many of us are reinvigorated to take charge of our health and wellness. People buy gym memberships, change their diets, or find new opportunities to work their mind. The new year brings a fresh start, and at Northwest Naturals, we believe it begins with knowing and being intentional of what we put into our bodies and recipes. As a leading juice concentrate manufacturer for over 40 years, we are experts in food science and technology. We know how that applies to flavor and nutrition in the production of your food and beverages. We want people to know they are consuming, so they can make the right choices for themselves.
Different Juice Concentrate Products, Different Nutritious Value
Depending on the juice we use, concentrates can offer healthy benefits. For example, Vitamin C is common in fruit juices citrus fruits. Dark red and purple fruits (pomegranate, blueberry, grape, cherry, etc.) contain anthocyanins and other antioxidants. Many juices contain B vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Juice concentrates include a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds such as polyphenols and carotenoids. On the other hand, they can also contain a high amount of sugar, calories and have very little (if any) of the fiber found in whole fruit and vegetables.
Depending on the type of juice product, the nutritional value varies. For example, Sugar Blends are the least health-minded option. These are made with liquid sugar, juice concentrates, and natural flavor. They have a lower cost than other categories, but not the most health-conscious option due to added sugars.
Juice Concentrates and JC Blends are single juices or multi-ingredient blends using only juice concentrates. There are no added sugars or flavors, and they are relatively health-conscious but still contain high amounts of sugar from the concentrated fruit juice(s).
WONF Blends (Juice Concentrates With Other Natural Flavors) are juice concentrate blends fortified with Natural Flavor(s). We can use these at lesser amounts than juices/blends that don’t include Natural Flavor. These will result in similar flavor intensity. We can therefore reduce calories without compromising the flavor of the end product.
Addressing the Additives
Juice concentrates don’t necessarily need anything added for preservation or functionality. However, depending on the goals of the end-product, there are several options Northwest Naturals can add. Our options are:
- Acids – Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid (and more)
- These lower pH of blends improve shelf-life and add tartness/sourness, which can optimize flavor of end products. The tartness can balance out a product that would otherwise be too sweet.
- Acids naturally occur in fruit. Consumers are not typically concerned with acids in products. If they are, we can use clarified lemon or lime juices instead.
- Colors – Natural or Artificial
- We use these for coloring blends and end products.
- Most consumers prefer Natural Colors, but it is susceptible to fading and discoloration if heated, subjected to light, or added to alcohol.
- Artificial Color is sturdier than Natural Color, but carries the “artificial” label on ingredient statements which is not typically well-received by health-conscious consumers.
- We can work with customers on whether or not they want to include colors and how that would affect their end product.
- Flavors – Natural or Artificial
- Natural Flavors are compounds derived from natural sources whose purpose is purely for flavor and not nutrition.
- Artificial Flavors are synthetic chemicals with no natural origin. Consumers have been wary of Artificial Flavor for years. They are potent and cost-effective, so they are preferred for projects with budget constraints.
- Flavors certainly don’t need to be used in blends. They increase flavor intensity and allow less concentrate use, which can lower calorie count. If a customer does not want to use flavors, then they may need to use more actual juice concentrate.
- Chemical preservatives
- Ingredients like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate can help increase shelf-life of blends and end products. NWN does not use them often, though they are available if customers choose.
- NWN concentrates and blends have excellent stability and shelf-life if stored frozen, which is our standard practice. Added preservatives are generally not necessary.
How Can Producers Incorporate More Healthy Habits Into Production?
We recommend using straight juice concentrates or use blends with no added sugar. WONF blends (that include Natural Flavor) can reduce overall juice concentrate usage with full flavor, which means Less sugar and calories with the same flavor intensity as using juices only.
Optimize nutritional value by choosing juices with high vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content like pomegranate, blueberry, and citrus.
Fresh Fruit vs. Juice Concentrate
Juice concentrates retain some of the vitamin content found in whole fruit, but some is lost during the concentration process. For minerals, we find much of its content in fruit skins, which is not included in juice concentrates. However, we do not lose mineral content of the juice itself during the concentration process.
Other beneficial compounds like anthocyanin pigments, antioxidants, and more are still present in juice from concentrate.
Tips for Health Conscious Applications
Super teas and juices are similar to pomegranate beverages with varying fruity flavors that are high in antioxidants and nutritional value. Companies committed to exploring the potential health benefits of juices will often use juice concentrate products.
Another example is nutrition bars with fruity fillings. Companies often make these with the intention of a healthy start to a person’s morning or afternoon snack. Flavored oatmeal, sugar-free Kombucha, apple cider vinegar drinks, and fruity-flavored yogurt are all made with a similar goal – to add nutrition and health to a person’s life through food and drink. Juice concentrates can be part of that process.
Prioritizing Intentional Consumption
At Northwest Naturals, we believe that healthy living is balance and consuming intentionally. Health begins with knowing and being intentional of what we put into our bodies. Knowing more about juice concentrate will allow your business to make the right decisions for production, and our team of flavor experts want to be there for you. Optimizing nutritional value is our goal as we support your business goals. Let us know how we can help you bring your products to the shelves in time for the New Year health boom. Contact us today!