Universal Beverages steps up expansion plans

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Universal Beverages steps up expansion plans

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

Universal Beverages has installed a new canning line at its site in Ledbury, Herefordshire, as it steps up its expansion plans.

The contract drinks manufacturer, which offers juice production and storage, fermentation, blending, glass bottling and new product development services, said the new 90,000 cans-per-hour Krones Volumetric canning line had attracted a lot of interest from firms in energy drinks and mixers.

“The line can fill slim-line (200e), sleek (202e), standard 440ml, 500ml and 568ml cans, and is suitable for beers, ciders, wines, soft drinks, energy drinks, carbonates and juices,” ​business development director Chris Newall told FoodManufacture.co.uk.“It also has the option of accurately-controlled tunnel pasteurisation.

“As well as having flexibility of can size, the line can also provide a comprehensive range of secondary packing options, including multi-pack and hi- and mid-cone application.”

Product is supplied to the line from a new process area via a Krones conti-flow unit, which has a dilution blending facility and in-line carbonation, he said.

High-alcohol fermented bases

The firm, which has recently pumped £12m into an anaerobic digestion facility for handling its waste water, has also broken new ground in the alcoholic drinks sector with the development of novel, fruit-derived high-alcohol bases for ready-to-drink products produced via fermentation, not distillation.

The bases, which can be produced from apple, pear or grape concentrate, glucose and malt extract, have attracted a lot of interest the ready-to-drink market, claimed Newall. “We are supplying very high alcohol fruit fermented bases to the ready-to-drink market and this side of the business is developing well.”

In most countries, an alcoholic beverage made from a fermented source attracted less duty than one made from spirit, said Newall, making it more economic to produce.

Its high alcohol content also meant it was more economical to use as less was required in the final product, he added.

Launched in late 2007 as a joint venture between Scottish & Newcastle and Q Group to produce cider for S&N subsidiary Bulmer’s, Universal Beverages is now wholly-owned by Heineken.

However, the “original business objective has not changed”, stressed Newall. “We are a limited company that provides contract production services to the drinks industry.The fact our shareholder is Heineken UK provides a greater degree of stability and support for the business.”

Related topics: Drinks

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