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Bulk buyers turn to HP for apple juice
Parle, Patanjli place 1k-tonne order of juice concentrate
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 11
Increasing concern about the quality of Chinese apple juice concentrate is making bulk consumers to revert to indigenous products, giving a new hope to the state-owned HPMC, which has been in the red.

The entry of the imported apple juice concentrate in the domestic market a decade ago had given a setback to indigenous apple processors, which were finding it difficult to compete on the price front.

The Chinese apple juice concentrate was available between Rs 45 and Rs 85 per kg, depending on the market situation. However, companies like Parle, which had been procuring Chinese juice in bulk, found that the quality of their products had suffered.

This year, they have reverted to HPMC and placed an order for 300 tonne of juice concentrate. It wanted more but the company, which has already entered a contract with the Patanjli Yogpeeth of Swami Ramdev for a supply of 700 tonne in two years, was not in a position to provide the juice .

With a record apple crop, the HPMC will process 10,000 tonne of apple this season to achieve the 50 per cent capacity utilisation after more than 15 years. Apple contributes over 83 per cent of the state’s total fruit production but the HPMC has never utilised its full processing capacity of 22,700 tonne and as a result accumulated losses to the tune of Rs 52 crore.

This year, it may earn an operational profit as the government had provided fruit for processing free of cost and as such the cost of production would come down to around Rs 55 per kg against the average dale rate of Rs 70 per kg.

A main reason for the low capacity utilisation was that the plant was operational only during the apple harvesting season, which lasts around 100 days. Unless the corporation finds way and means for diversification and making better utilisation of the available infrastructures and manpower, there is no hope for a turnaround. The replacement of old machinery will improve the recovery of juice from apple, which is very low as it takes 10 to 11 kg of fruit to produce one kg of juice concentrate. The latest machinery yields one kg of concentrate from 7 to 8 kg. It will certainly help bring down the cost of production.





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