The Apple Press - Hawke's Bay Goodness

FOODBOWL

The FoodBowl is always happy to assist local companies, but the best feeling of all is when the development done at The FoodBowl leads to a massive economic win for a region and for New Zealand. “The Apple Press” is a new Hawke’s Bay beverage brand that produces the world’s best apple juice and does it sustainably utilising the leftover “ugly fruit” that does not make export grade.

The Apple Press (previously operating under the company name Apollo Foods) has built a state-of-the-art beverage processing facility in Hawke's Bay to enable development of apple based beverages for NZ & export markets. Before the plant was commissioned, they needed to show they had a great product, one worth investing in and so came to The FoodBowl in 2014 to refine and test their juice processes and formulations. They needed to justify the business case for the new facility and be ready to go as soon as the plant was ready.

Sally Gallagher, Head of Innovation & Strategy at The Apple Press, says “Our FoodBowl experience was very positive, the people there were so helpful; all expectations were met. Without The FoodBowl, we wouldn’t be here today with this product. How else could we have tested it?”

The Apple Press uses fruit not “pretty enough” for export. Sally says the concept was “let’s make our juice look and taste like an apple” (with no preservatives or additives).

Job creation is already considerable - three employees have become 40 in only 18 months. Sales turnover, although domestic only, has grown rapidly to >$500K since launch in April 2018. Export interest is high from a range of markets, and all going well there may even be a container on the water before Christmas.

A chilled juice shelf life is generally 40-60 days, but The Apple Press process can increase this substantially. Thanks to the perfecting of an aseptic filling technique, there is no contamination from pathogens. It means a shelf life of 9 months, chilled for the Apple Press juice range.

Food development is never without challenges: some variants were too acidic, others had colours that weren’t consumer-friendly enough. But there was shining success with Braeburn, Royal Gala and JazzTM – apples in a bottle. A run of 500 bottles at The FoodBowl has become 10,000 bottles an hour in Hawke's Bay. (The plant capacity is circa. 50 million bottles per year). Finding the right investors who shared the same vision was also a challenge that took nearly a year to secure.

Operational investment has been big, with the capital investment circa. $20 million, supported by Callaghan Innovation from the project outset. New Zealand’s unwanted (but delicious) apples have become sought-after beverage SKUs in Foodstuffs and Progressive supermarkets.

This venture is poised to become a major export winner for New Zealand, and it all began at The FoodBowl.