Bakers Journal

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West Invest develops method to reduce acidity in fruit


June 14, 2018
By Bakers Journal

The acidity of fruits like the cranberry can be an obstacle to their consumption, so West Invest hired a team of engineers, technicians, and flavour specialists to target the molecule responsible for undesirable acid perception. The company unveiled a patent-pending innovation they call F.I.E.R.TM (Flash Ions Exchange Resins.)

A year of research led to development of the process, which is used to adjust and correct the pH of cranberries (from less than 2.5 to nearly 3.5) by selectively, reliably, and quickly reducing a specific compound while preserving all the original properties in the fruit. The pH scale measures acidity: Water is considered neutral – neither acidic nor alkaline – with a pH level of 7. The lower the number on the scale, the more acidic it is.

The process can be applied to a wide range of so-called acidic fruits such as pineapple, and optimize a pH between 2.5 and 4.5 to a tenth of a point. West Invest says that the process can be applied to other products such as juices, jams, sauces, coulis, and toppings, or even soups, precluding the need for added sugar and artificial colouring.

“Today, consumer awareness is leading to increased demand for a healthier diet that limits the use of sugar without altering the taste experience,” says Eric Reynaud, the found of West Invest, in a press release. “Cranberries have important health benefits, such as antioxidants and polyphenolics, but because of their acidity, they are not consumed, or at least rarely, favoured without changing their concentration (adding sugar and/or water.)

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“That is why, after painstaking research to enhance and optimize the potential of cranberries and other acidic fruits, we at West Invest are proud to announce that we have developed an industrial innovation that will put the fruit at centre stage. The cranberry is ultimately a beautiful symphony—you just have to tune out the off-key notes.”

F.I.E.R.TM costs less than 2¢ per litre to implement. It is capable of processing 50,000 litres per day of cranberry juice or any other type of product. The device, consisting of four chromatography reactors, can process a wide range of products thanks to an automation and regulation module allowing the operator to adjust and stabilize the pH of the desired solutions. The process can be easily integrated into any existing production line with very low implementation costs.

The tool’s capacity suggests easy scalability to accommodate higher productivity levels. West Invest is currently working on a unit capable of processing 250,000 litres per day. Going from 50,000 litres to 250,000 litres is much easier than scaling up from the laboratory to the pre-industrial stage.

Renowned international organizations and laboratories such as the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Centre de Recherche Industrielle du Québec (CRIQ), have validated the technology and certified that it preserves the phenolic profile of deacidified cranberry juice.

As such, it fully preserves the polyphenolic compounds and anthocyanin pigments—the cranberry’s claim to fame—throughout the entire process.