Franciso Falomir Vallina had 7,000 problems. That's how many apple trees
in his orchard were becoming useless to him every day. It wasn't that he
didn't enjoy his work. Trained in agriculture, he was living a dream that
began with acquiring a 62-acre orchard, 2 hours west of Chihuahua, Mexico.
It wasn't that the trees were unproductive. Franciso was harvesting some
of the finest organically grown Golden Delicious table fruit in the
country. By all accounts, Francisco should have been considered a
fortunate man. He was doing something he loved and doing it
But in 1992, Mexico opened its doors to foreign competition. Suddenly, the
bottom dropped out of the apple market, and his 7,000 trees turned into
problems. The stores were flooded with Chilean and Washington State fruit. Some of his fellow growers accused outside interests of using Mexico as a dumping ground for their product. All Francisco new was that he could not even grow apples at supermarket prices. The only other outlet for domestic growers was the vastly oversupplied concentrate market.
A matter of survival
Unless he could find a way to put some profit back into his crop, his years of investment and hard work would count for nothing. Francisco came up with a bold solution. When it came to apple juice, Mexican consumers' only choice was pale, clarified liquid product. Could a high quality, flavorful, natural juice from organically grown apples compete on the store shelves?
Francisco heard about Goodnature Products through a university contact. "It was one of the few companies offering a complete line of pressing equipment with capacities ranging from small to large. They were able to provide a machine that exactly matched our desired output requirements. As a result, we were able to keep our start-up costs within reason." Goodnature's SX200 Squeezebox press was selected. The manufacturer also had the expertise to design a complete turnkey plant, including equipment for receiving, pressing, and bottling. Due to the unique circumstances of the plant's location, power generation equipment and trucked-in propane were required. Provisions also had to be made for trucking in and pasteurizing water. Within three weeks of the equipment's arrival the facility was in operation.
No compromise on quality
The orchard's entire crop is handpicked. No drops are allowed. The crisp, nutritionally rich fruit presses beautifully. A cold storage capability extends the pressing season. During that period up to 38,000 bottles per week are processed. "At Guadalupe Orchards, we strictly adhere to organic production methods that comply with our personal ecological principles," says Franciso. "The quality of the juice is excellent. No press aids are used during the extraction process - the press provides acceptably high yields without them - and no additives are introduced." The light, honey colored juice is pasteurized at temperatures low enough to provide extended shelf life without damaging color and flavor. The product is so low in solids that no filtration is required. Benefits are twofold: capital and operating costs can be maintained at a comparatively low level. Also, valuable juice is not lost to filtration media, thereby increasing actual in-the-bottle yield.
Equipment integrity, vendor support mean alot
"For us, the plant was a major investment. Our goal was an optimal pressing and bottling process to ensure the best taste, maximum freshness, and greatest nutritional value anywhere. The Squeezebox is a very simple, uncomplicated machine. Operating costs are extremely low. Only one operator is required and anyone can learn how to use it with very little training. The press is very reliable - it works all the time! Sanitation is also an important consideration. The machine design is basic, making it a very easy piece of equipment to keep clean. Goodnature's support has been outstanding. They don't just talk about service and commitment - they mean it. This is very important - especially for a company outside of the United States, like ours."