The fruit processing industry in Kenya has a lot of untapped potential. This is because it currently does not operate at full capacity. It has also fluctuated historically. For instance, orange juice processing in the 1990s had appreciated in production levels by 44% but demand was low and canning costs were also high. This is the reverse in the 2000s as demand due to health consciousness has risen but processing is hampered by seasonal supply and mainly commercial juice-making. Mango processing has done well because of the rise of factories in places like Hola where the ngowe variety grows. There are also initiatives by women groups to boost production via new value added mango products.
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The following is a review of the current statuses of the two juice types in Kenya.
Orange juice began its appeal in the world between 1925 and 1930. This was when industries used the fruit rejects to make juice. It was not until after 1930 that pasteurization enabled the commercial canning of the juice for sale. In the mid-1940s, new breakthroughs enabled the bottling of the juice while retaining its vital vitamins and oleic acid through vacuum canning. Currently, most people go for natural cold-pressed juice that is available from simple fruit processing industries.
Orange juice is usually unfermented liquid from the flesh of mature fruits. It comes from the species Citrus sinensis which is a pure orange. It can also be extracted from a few hybrid types that give the juice a sour lemon-like taste.
The processing of orange juice in Kenya can be natural or commercial. Commercial details the making of concentrates at freezing point that users can dilute after buying because it is refined and sugary. The natural type is a product of cold pressing. It comes from a pure fruit that undergoes squeezing after slicing under a hydraulic press. The rotating press usually skims the juice out of the slices that become smaller with each rotation. The resulting juice is crude and with no additive. Many companies, including commercial soft drink makers have set up factories that process oranges and other fruits to make natural or diluted concentrates.
Mango Pulp and Juice
Mango juice has become one of the best natural products to maintain health and stay thirst. The first popular processed product is mango pulp from ngowe mango. The processing involves initial inspection, cleaning and then slicing. Then the pieces go through a de-pulping machine that also deseeds them. The next process involves the cold pressing of the pulp that leads to a crude brilliant yellow viscous stuff. The thick pulp does not go through filtering in order to retain its high brix degree or solid matter.
Mango puree and concentrate, on the other hand, undergo malaxing and eventual cooling after the de-pulping process. The process produces thick stuff that can feature in other juices like orange or pineapple. It also flavors fruit puddings, bakery and dairy products.
Dried or snack mangoes have also become common end-products of Kenya varieties. In the Central parts of the country, many women groups dry the fruits before heating the sliced pieces in the oven. This leads to nutritious and tasty chips that are available in groceries in ready-to-eat packages. The local farmers also retain the powder of the crushed dry mangos.
In short, whether going for mango juice and related end-products or orange juice, Kenya provides each with new value addition methods. While orange juice is mainly available in bottling companies, value added mango is available even in non-liquid forms like chips and powder. These provide the nutritional value of iron, Caroteneid, Oleic acid and vitamin E.