The Apple Press taps into the beauty within
It’s a bold move to claim the title of ‘the world’s best apple juice’, but Ross Beaton, founder of The Apple Press, believes his own hype.
The start-up from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand has introduced a new kind of apple juice to Australia and international markets, that champions different varieties of apples and puts ugly fruit to good use.
Beaton started planting apple trees in around 1982 – 8434 of them to be precise – and over the next 30 years developed a business with his brother.
“We were exporting 2 million cases to 43 countries globally,” Beaton told Inside FMCG.
But as the orders grew, so too did the level of wastage. If the apples had cosmetic blemishes from a hail storm or sunburn, they would likely fail the retailer’s test.
“If they didn’t meet the quality standards, they weren’t deemed fit to sell,” Beaton said.
“We had 10,000 tonnes of apples and wanted to do something worthwhile with them. These apples in a blind test would taste exactly like the ones you purchase.”
They began exploring new ways to repackage and sell them.
When Ross met Sally
The Apple Press started to grow legs in 2013, when Beaton teamed up with Sally Gallagher, a food innovation specialist with experience creating products for the likes of Campbell Soup in the US.
The duo undertook an extensive trial over the course of a few years, using ‘ugly’ apples to create apple juice.
Following in the footsteps of the wine and olive oil industries, they tapped into the unique qualities of different varieties of the fruit, partnering up with “global superstars”, Pink Lady, Jazz and Envy, to do so.
“We said there’s a brand line extension, we’ve got the same ethos as your brands.
“For the last 40 years, apple juice has been used as a filler or it’s been concentrated and shipped overseas. We’re here to hero the apple again.”
Cold pressed tech
The Apple Press built their own world class facility in the Hawke’s Bay, investing heavily in technology so that they did not need to use preservatives.
“Because of the technology where we blow our own bottles and sterilize all of the packaging prior to filling, we don’t need to use excessive heat to make the product stable and we don’t have to use preservative, gums, added sugars or anything else like that.”
“It’s about taking, what they call, the badditives out. People are wanting a clean product, less processed foods, they’re wanting a more true to food taste.”
“Our aspiration is to basically deliver an experience of drinking a freshly picked Pink Lady, Jazz or Envy apple. So it delivers the same characteristics.”
The Apple Press uses half the plastic of a normal plastic bottle and hopes to move to fully recycled in the next two or three years.
The chilled process gives the product a nine month shelf life which Beaton said is necessary to be able to export.
“We’re a long way from anyone, and we have to be able to export because we only have five million people here in New Zealand. We needed that shelf life to get us into northern Asian markets and so forth.”
Since they started the business in May 2018, they have launched in Singapore, Tahiti, 1500 supermarkets in Japan, and three months ago, hit shelves in 630 Woolworths stores in Australia.
“We’re very young but we’re looking for all opportunities,” Beaton said.
“We do a lot of sampling because a lot of people haven’t tried real apple juice. Our conversion rate is 70-80 per cent. Once people taste it, they’re coming back and buying it again.”
The business aims to recycle everything it manufactures and has plans to roll out some innovative products over the next 12 months.