Juice is a very healthy food. It consists of water, fruit sugar, fruit acid and minerals. Depending on the particular type, juice contains different vitamin concentrations. Due to its high water content, juice is very susceptible to micro-organisms and must be processed very carefully and hygienically.

Juice production

Production is divided into two steps:

1. Juice extraction: cultivation and preparation

The fruit is cleaned and sorted after harvesting. It is either prepared ready for dispatch as a consignment or, in the case of mass-produced goods such as orange juice, is directly concentrated locally in order to make optimum use of transport capacities. The other advantage of concentrated juice is that it requires less space and thus less refrigerating capacity.

If the bottling plant is nearby, the juice can be bottled direct without using a concentration and redilution process.

The juice yield fluctuates between 40% and 85% of the fruit weight, depending on the fruit. The conductivity of juice ranges between 2.0 and 16.0 mS/cm. Juice extraction is a seasonal business: it is restricted to a few periods during the year. However, the full plant capacity has to be available during these periods. This places high demands on the technology. Stoppages may lead to spoiling of the fruit and subsequently to high losses. After the fruit arrives from the farm at the reprocessing company, it is subject to batch retracing and the HACCP control requirements of the end customer.

Once the concentrate has been produced, it must be preserved and documented in order to maintain the cooling chain up until final use.

2. Juice bottling: adjustment and bottling

The juice is adjusted in the bottling plant with water to the correct and usually its original concentration. It may be necessary to mix different batches in order to obtain a constant taste. Different fruit juices are also frequently mixed. Up to 15 grams of sugar, or even more in the case of some citrus fruits or citric acids, may be added. The added ingredients must be shown on the label.

In order to fully preserve the juice with its contents, heat treatment to extend the shelf life is increasingly being dispensed with and bottling takes place in cold sterile systems. However, hot bottling (80-85°C) followed by recooling of the bottle is still used as the standard method. Bottling whit hot product gives the bottle a heat treatment too, the chance of microbiological contamination due to the bottle is being reduced by this. Due to the high acidity of juice no spores can germinate, so sterilisation is not required and a heat treatment of upto 80 °C is sufficient to kill all vegetative microorganisms.

Manufacturing different categories

Products are manufactured in different categories:

Direct juice: it is pressed and processed directly.

Juice: some of the water is removed from the juice for transportation and is added again to the same extent before bottling. No other ingredients are added. The quality of the juice only depends to a slight extent on whether not the end product contains fruit pulp.

Nectar: does not have the full juice content, only 25% to 40% is fruit juice. The product is diluted with more water than was removed from the original juice. Other ingredients are added at times.

Fruit juice drink: a fruit juice drink has more sugar than fruit juice as a basis. In this case the drink must only contain between 6% and 30% as fruit juice.

An increasing number of drinks containing a mixture of fruit juice and whey are being launched on the market.

Mainly acidic products can be conserved by ultra-high isostatic pressure. In this case, the vegetative micro-organisms are killed by the high pressure and a low pH prevents outgrowth of spores.


Soft Drinks Industry Winters

The rich history of Soft Drinks Industry Winters BV is now in its third century. Today, the bottling company is alive more than ever. With a flexible attitude and high quality standards it has become the largest Dutch soft drinks exporter. In addition, the lubricants of Shell Lubricants (taken over by Fuchs Lubricants) make the machines run optimally and food safe.

"You ask, Winters fills": that's the motto of Soft Drinks Industry Winters BV in Maarheeze (North Brabant, The Netherlands). The company is not directly known to the consumers: the company has never sold soft drinks under its own name. Still, it can look back on a long and rich history. When William Van Hooff laid the founding stone of his brewery on August 5, 1797, he could not have realised that it would become an international soft drink company in two centuries time. By inheritance to the next generations in the year 1873 Jan Winters came in charge. Since then, the brewery was known by his name. In 1918 the production of soft drinks started. Until 1958 Winters only had regional ambitions. Then the company expanded business and Winters became producer of world renowned branded as Seven-Up, Sunkist and Canada Dry. When the domestic sales of soft drinks stagnated, the sight was set on various foreign markets in the seventies. In 1978 the company became part of TLC Beatrice International Holdings. Together with the Belgian soda bottling Sunco, who belonged to the same group, it took over the French mineral water producer St. Alban in 1996. After a management buyout the holding company Sun Beverages Company emerged in 1998, comprising Winters, Sunco and St. Alban.

Contract filling

In 1989 the licenses for the production of Seven-Up and other branded products for the Dutch market ended. Since then all attention is directed to 'contract filling'. This is done on behalf of major international food companies, retailers and other commercial organizations. Winters fills cans for a range of soft drinks, energy drinks, mixed drinks, juices, waters and beers with well-known brands. Between 5 and 10% of production is destined for its own brands, such as Sun Cola and Orange, Party Cola and Orange, Provita multivitamin drink, Maresca mineral water and Megaforce energy drink. Nearly 95% of the volumes is exported worldwide and thus Winters is immediately the biggest Dutch soda exporter. Every year more than 500 million cans are filled, packed and logistically processed. Winters currently employs 120 people in permanent employment and dozens of seasonal workers. Production runs per working day in three shifts for 24 hours and during the peak season in a four or five shifts.

To realize such large numbers, Winters has three production lines. An important part of each line is the can sealing machine running at very high speeds. Two machines seal 1,200 filled cans per minute and the third will do another 625 units per minute. Frans Cox, head of utilities and engineering projects: "Such devices are very capital intensive. It is very important that they remain in good condition to produce an excellent product with a constant quality. "

For the reliability of the sealing machines the right food grade lubricants are essential. Some parts are lubricated with oil, others with grease. Oils are able to dissipate more heat and are regenerable by filtration. They are applied for the lubrication of (plain) bearings and gears. Fats are oils encapsulated in soap skeleton. They have less heat-dissipating properties, and can not be reused. The fats serve, inter alia, for the lubrication of bearings in hemming rollers. Incidentally, their lubricating frequency is lower than that of oils.

One supplier

Until ten years ago, Winters used lubricants from various manufacturers. F. Cox: "However, the need hasd arisen to rationalise the diversity of products and providers. To get a better overview, we decided to give one person decision-making authority and to work with just one supplier. The result is that if there are questions, there is only one firm where you can go to the right person. That's an advantage, because of the high speeds the machines are very sensitive and, if necessary, you should be able to rely on a rapid intervention of your lubricant supplier."

Arjan Nieuwstraten, food sector specialist of Shell Lubricants, adds: "The material of a modern beverage can is much thinner than before and therefore the method of sealing is more critical. So you can imagine the tolerances to have to work with will be smaller than before. The importance of the lubrication is thus become much greater. "

At that time Winters already bought around 70% of its lubricants from Shell Lubricants and, partly by this collaboration this supplier was chosen. "The people at Shell were always coming into action directly when needed. They were also always ready for the start up of new equipment, switching to newer oils or fats, assistance in making lubrication schedules, etc. That's why we did not have to think long about who we wanted to go into business with", F. Cox continues.

In practice, there is now a 'gentlemen's agreement' between the two parties. "A synergy has grown between our companies, based on years of trust", A. Nieuwstraten confirms. "The collaboration with Shell Lubricants is closely aligned with the expectations that we have with respect to our suppliers", F. Cox adds.

Incidentally Shell offers Winters an additional service with the Lubriplan software. This lubrication management system provides an accurate overview of the inspection points for fats and oils in the machines and generates user-friendly instructions. So it is indicated where and with what frequency there has to be checked or lubricated and with what product that needs to be done. "Moreover Lubriplan builds up a history of the objects to be lubricated. It may sometimes appear that periodic lubrication at a certain location is needed less frequent than planned. Such cost optimisations we do proactively for Winters", A. Nieuwstraten continues.

Food safety

In this industry, food safety is of paramount importance and it is essential that no contamination of the filled product occurs. The past decades mineral (engine) oils were used to lubricate can seaming machines. Because these are unfit and improper to come into contact with food, Shell Lubricants has developed a range of food grade oils and fats which are suitable for the lubrication of such equipment. They may be used in the food industry and meet the European standard and the US FDA NSF H1-H1. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) considers incidental contact of these lubricants with the food product to be acceptable to a level of 10 ppm (parts per million). The lubricants are food safe without compromising on their lubricating properties.

Incidentally, there are two types of food grade products. In some sealing machines the lubrication takes place in a closed circuit: this process is called "recirculating oil '. For such systems Shell Lubricants has developed the synthetic oil 'Shell Cassida Fluid GLE' series. That series has excellent lubricating properties and is recognized by leading suppliers of sealing such as Angelus (USA), FMC FoodTech (Belgium) and Ferrum (Switzerland). A second process is that wherein the lubricant is used only once: the "total-loss system. For this, Shell introduced the food grade mineral oil 'Shell FM Gear Oil TLS 150'. That delivers outstanding performance, even in the presence of water, juice or beer. Moreover, this oil absorbs water, preventing rust.

Remarkable is that these Shell products were developed in cooperation with Soft Drinks Industry Winters. A. Nieuwstraten: "We gave attention both to food security and to the optimization of lubricant performance. At Winter we have gained a lot of knowledge about the lubrication of sealing machines with these products and numerous tests have led to the most sophisticated lubricants for this sector."

Quality Systems

Large beverage producers that have known branded products manufactured through contract fillers not only value high the quality of the final product. Also, the extent to which the production process is controlled and hygiene risks are avoided, plays a major role for them. Winters has responded and holds international quality certificates according to ISO 9000, 14001 and HACCP (hazard analysis critical control points). In addition, the bottling company is certified to the BRC standard (British Retail Consortium). That standard contains guidelines which food producers have to meet in order to supply the large English supermarkets. Finally, for German and French retail chains Winters has the IFS certificate (International Food Standard).

With the high quality food grade lubricants of Shell Lubricants and the high quality standards of Winter the consumer profits.

Company profile

Featured expert: Pieter Van de Schepop

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  • Food-grade lubrication
  • Beverage
  • Sugar
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit & vegetable
  • Fruit
  • Storage & transport
  • Tank - silo
  • High pressure sterilising