Turning ‘ugly’ apples into premium juice

Apollo Foods is on a mission to make apple juice great again, with its new venture The Apple Press using the 13,000 tons of cosmetically challenged apples left in Hawke’s Bay orchards to craft into premium juice.
Founded by Hawke’s Bay apple grower and businessman Ross Beaton, who started planting apple trees in 1982 and built a successful apple business exporting to 45 countries, The Apple Press is the solution to the problem of thousands of tons of ‘ugly fruit’, whose marks, scuffs, or sunburn deem them not pretty enough for export.
Ross joined food innovation specialist Sally Gallagher to establish The Apple Press, with the vision of making all-natural, high quality, varietal led apple juice in significant quantities to export. But they couldn’t find a factory with the capability to do it.
“Sally and I were standing in a paddock one day when she said tongue in cheek ‘you know what, we should build one!’ I replied ‘why not?’,” Ross says. Finding a suitable plot of land was a challenge in itself.
“We looked at a number of sites around Hawke’s Bay, which is a challenging environment,” Ross says. “We needed facilities such as gas, trade waste, and other infrastructural assets.”
Ross and Sally managed to find a nice 3.6ha block at Whakatu, a fantastic location next to the river with council planning a new bypass right past the front gate.
The build of the production facility was managed by Strata Group Consulting Engineers, and it boasts some of the latest and greatest technology in the world.
Ross says for an investment of more than $30,000,000, the Krones plant is the BMW of bottling equipment from the world’s leading bottle filling specialist, and can produce thousands of 100% recyclable bottles per hour.
Strata Group director Russell Nettlingham congratulates Ross and his team on the launch of The Apple Press.
“This was a complex civil and structural design project on a greenfi eld site and we are proud to have been involved from concept to completion. Apollo Foods is a highly innovative food company significantly raising the bar in food production here in Hawke’s Bay.”
They may be ugly, but The Apple Press apples are given the same five-star treatment as export products; hand picked at peak ripeness, cold stored, then cold pressed just once and bottled with a boost of Vitamin C but no added sugar or preservatives.
“We cold press the apples just once to capture all of the flavour and aromas of that apple,” Ross says. “Here in Hawke’s Bay we have the world’s best apples, why not make the world’s best apple juice? Having quality produce is half the job.”
The Apple Press gives consumers the opportunity to enjoy their favourite variety of Hawke’s Bay apple, with Royal Gala, Jazz, and Braeburn as single varietal juices.
“All apples taste differently so whether people prefer a sweeter fruit like Royal Gala or a more acidic one like Braeburn, we have made that distinction.
More varieties will follow as we source the fruit and develop our market.” Ross says this is the most exciting thing he has done in his life, and it hasn’t been achieved solely.
“I want to thank all the people who have been involved in this project, and also the staff I have who are helping us to make apple juice great again. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
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