The firm acquired the assets of Llantrisant-based All Natural Juice Company from its administrator in early February and has already employed 15 former staff; it follows Fruitapeel’s acquisition of the former Sunjuice cartoning facility (also in Llantrisant), where production restarted in February 2010.
Fruitapeel manufactures own-label and branded juices and fresh smoothies for both the retail and food-service sectors, and plans to produce 10m litres of fresh fruit juice in its first year at Llantrisant, where it has an overall capacity of 50m litres.
Haigh (pictured) told FoodManufacture.co.uk that Fruitapeel’s acquisition of the former Sunjuice site, which produces branded and own-label cartoned juice (for instance, the firm is Iceland’s sole UK supplier and also supplies smoothies to the Co-Op) was a chance for the company to move beyond fruit- and confectionery sauces and ingredients.
“I made the decision about 14 months ago to move into juice,” said Haigh, “and saw the opportunity with the demise of Sunjuice to acquire its cartoning operations, which have now turned over £12.5m in the first year.”
Thereafter the firm was hunting for an extraction facility dealing with chilled, fresh, pasteurised short shelf-life fresh juice and smoothie products, said Haigh, which is where the All Natural Juice Company’s assets came in.
“We were immediately able to bring 15 people back, and one added bonus – which I wasn’t aware of when I took over – is that the company had just secured a major retail contract, so I can see us doubling staff numbers” when this starts in the summer.
Although Fruitapeel only bought All Natural’s assets several weeks ago – and took out a 10-year lease on its former factory – Haigh said he envisages a £7-10m turnover within 12 months, while Fruitapeel’s Liverpool site, which produces fruit and confectionery products such as dessert sauces for major brands, has sales of £3.5m.
Sunjuice decline created choice issue
Following the decline of Sunjuice as the largest UK fresh juice supplier in January 2009, Haigh said there was a gap in the market for a third major firm to rival Daniels Chilled Foods (which owns Johnsons Juices) and Orchard House Foods, with much capacity transferred abroad.
Haigh said he had employed a number of former Sunjuice staff – for their smoothie expertise in particular – and that after that firm’s decline the UK lost 15m litres of juice production capacity, including not from concentrate but “from concentrate in particular”, to European rivals such as Spain.
“When you look at Sunjuice it was a crying shame that the business was allowed to go under, and it also created an issue in the marketplace with only two players: the supermarkets in particular want choice,” he said.