Giving wonky and surplus fruit a new lease of life

13th December 2018

Using the example of Flawsome!, this case study explores the potential to add value to the apple residue that remains after the juicing process, commonly known as pomace.

Key Facts
Flawsome! produces apple-based fruit juices from misshapen or surplus fruit
450 tonnes of fruit material were processed from Sept 2017 to Sept 2018
111 tonnes of apple pomace waste was generated in the first year of production. A local pig breeder collected this as a free source of animal feed
WRAP Cymru established that the pomace could be used to produce high-value pectin

Summary

This case study explores how the Cardiff-based, high-growth drinks company, Flawsome! (formerly known as Get Wonky), has not only found a new lease of life for surplus and misshapen fruit but has also, with the help of WRAP Cymru, identified new markets for the apple pomace / pulp that remains after the juicing process. 

WRAP Cymru supported Flawsome! by exploring opportunities to develop high-value products from their pomace in order to diversify. A total of 17 options were researched, evaluated and narrowed down to four - apple rings, cider, pectins and flavoured teas.  The four options were then further developed into detailed business cases, outlining processing requirements, market research and the associated operational and capital costs for plant and machinery. 

As a result of WRAP Cymru’s support, Flawsome! intends to expand their product range by diversifying into the production of pectin; thereby further minimising waste, whilst maximising revenue.

Introduction

Using the example of Flawsome!, this case study explores the potential to add value to the apple residue that remains after the juicing process, commonly known as pomace. 

Flawsome! produces apple-based fruit juices from misshapen or surplus fruit that would otherwise be sent for compost, anaerobic digestion or animal feed. It is a young, ambitious company, headed up by entrepreneurs Maciek Kacprzyk and Karina Sudenyte.

Flawsome! supplies the consumer, retail and catering markets and is committed to sustainable production. All packaging is easily recyclable and all the fruit is sourced from farmers who cannot sell their wonky or surplus produce anywhere else. Each bottle saves approximately two misshapen apples. 

WRAP Cymru provided direct support to Flawsome! to explore options to develop high-value products from the apple pomace generated during fruit juice production.

Waste arisings

Flawsome! has been operating since September 2017 and in its first year has generated 111 tonnes of apple pomace. This was given to a local pig farm, free of charge, as animal feed. 

Under normal production processes from a single apple, roughly 70% is fruit juice and 30% is apple pomace. The pomace is comprised of seed core, seeds, stems and peel.

Options

Assessing the options

An options appraisal was undertaken that reviewed potential high-value products, which could be made from the pomace. These options would be practicable to introduce and would also sit comfortably alongside the existing Flawsome! product range. To assist with shortlisting, the options were scored based on their technological, commercial and practical feasibility as seen in the table below.

Shortlisting the options

The options were categorised into three broad process methods, and three product and branding types:

Process methods

  1. Minimal processing - e.g. use as anaerobic digestion feedstock.
  2. Drying and milling into chunks / flakes / powders.
  3. Cooking into different products, often with a sieving stage (e.g. apple pomace leather and jams).

Product and branding types

  1. Commodity product sold to manufacturers as an ingredient with no or low use of the Flawsome! brand (e.g. extracted chemicals).
  2. Branded pure pomace products sold to consumers, with product differentiation achieved through the Flawsome! brand and values (e.g. ‘Flawsome! Apple Pomace Powder’).
  3. Value-added products made by Flawsome! using their pomace products as an ingredient (e.g. own baked goods, jams and chutneys).

A total of 17 product options were identified for apple pomace. Each of these were scored and ranked in accordance with the weighted criteria listed in the previous section.

Following discussions with Flawsome!, it was agreed that business cases would be developed for the following four options:

  • Apple rings
  • Cider 
  • Pectins
  • Fruit teas

Business case

Developing the business case for pectin production

Despite not scoring the highest out of the 17 options, pectin stood out as an innovative product worth exploring further. Its specialist nature could generate the highest margin route to market compared to the other options.

Pectin occurs naturally in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables. It is the very thing that gives them structure. When cooked to a high temperature in combination with acid and sugar, it forms a gel. 

Pectin is what makes jams and jellies develop a semi-solid texture when they cool. As such, it can be used in dishes that require the food to gel or thicken. Pectins can also be used in medical and pharmaceutical applications, such as a texturiser for moisturisers / shampoos and as a skin anti-aging agent. 

In 2015, in the global market for pectin, the average price exceeded $15/kg, with over 60,000 tonnes on the market and a global value close to $1 billion. The pectin market is anticipated to reach $1.9 billion by 2025.

Flawsome! could use their pomace waste to manufacture a simple, liquid pectin product or a higher value dry powder pectin product. It could then be sold into the next stage of the supply chain or as a retail product in its own right.

It was concluded that a series of important elements would need to be reviewed in more detail; namely, pectin yield (£/Ltr); raw materials and ratios; resonance time requirements; water consumption; energy considerations for second phase condensing; and capital costs for pipework. Revenue assumptions on £/bottle ex-works should also be tested.

Next steps

As Flawsome! approaches its first anniversary of operation, the company is looking to not only expand its range of products but also diversify its operations. With the prospect of further private sector investment, work is now underway to finalise the operational business model and the economics around pectin production costs, pricing and the brand. 

As a result of this timely support from WRAP Cymru, Flawsome! intends to optimise the use of the pomace from their juicing operations and develop one or more ranges of pectin products.