Nigerians are one of the highest consumers of fruit juice in the world, with statisticians estimating that at least 50% of the population of 170 million people consume fruit juice daily. Being the biggest market in Africa, several companies like Chivita, Coca Cola, UAC, and other food and beverage companies have taken advantage to turn over billions of naira for their companies in recent times.
However, there is a niche market for natural fresh fruit juice as many individuals now embrace fresh fruit juice as a lifestyle alternative to improve their health. Entrepreneurs who venture into the market are sure to break even in the shortest possible time, as long as they maintain high quality and hygienic standards. We live in a fast paced society with a lot of people increasingly too busy to prepare fruits themselves, so bringing the product to the streets and neighborhood is a sure way of making money.
Natural fruit juice is simply extraction of a fruit with little or no addition. If freshly made then the fruit juice is meant for immediate consumption and preservatives are not required. Many people are ready to pay a premium for undiluted natural fruit juice and the business is thriving in hotels, bars, fast food centres, shopping malls and other places with a large traffic of people. But having natural fruit juice on wheels is a trend that is fast catching on as it affords the average man on the street the opportunity to consume the natural fruit delight.
Nigeria is blessed with various fruits like: water melon, paw-paw, oranges, lemon, lime, pineapple, mangoes, and guava and so on. Availability of a wide range of raw materials offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to be creative in blending and offering consumers a wide variety of products. However, experience has shown that people prefer fruits that are rare and not seen every day.
We have become used to getting natural fruit juice in certain hotels and restaurants but the mobile fruit juice bar is the new rave as it takes the product to the door steps of masses and offers the man on the street an alternative to the processed juice and drinks being hawked around in traffic and sold by the road side.
The average Nigerian is health conscious as already said, but many of them cannot afford or have access to the exotic restaurants and malls where fresh juice is made, so putting fresh juice on the wheels makes the entrepreneur meet the needs of people on the street. The weather is usually warm during the day and the street crowd really huge, so a mobile fruit juice bar offers huge potentials to entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs can process natural fruit juice at the very basic level with fruit juice extractor or adopt more sophisticated machines to extract in commercial quantity. But it is advisable to get the endorsement of The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to check your processes before selling to the general public. We know that a number of local women extract juice and sell at the subsistence level in neighborhoods, offices and so on, but it is against the law to sell food, drugs and drinks without NAFDAC approval.
A wide range of drinks can be made using extracted fruit juice or fruit pulp as the base raw material and the process of making juice varies. Juice can be made out of fresh fruit, vegetables, concentrate, frozen fruit paste or aseptic mix.
Many are consumed as pure juice without the addition of any other ingredients, but some are diluted with sugar syrup. The types of drink made from fruit can be separated into two basic types which include those drunk straight after opening and those used over time which are stored between uses.
The former group does not require any preservative if processed and packaged properly. However, the latter group must contain a certain amount of permitted preservatives to have a long shelf-life after opening.
It is a business you can start up with under half a million naira depending on the production process you choose. The equipment required for production include: juice extractor, knives, peelers, analytical balance, plastic buckets and so on.
For all the fruit based beverages, the first stage is the selection and extraction of juice or pulp from the fruit. It is important to select mature, undamaged fruits and remove under-ripe or moldy fruits before washing and cleaning.
The next stage after cleaning is extraction and there are several methods to extract juice depending on the type of fruit you use. For citrus fruits which are naturally juicy, the best option is to use a hand presser or a revolving citrus ‘rose’.
Some fruits such as melon and papaya are steamed to release the juice. Apples are pressed and fruits such as mango, guava, sour sop, pineapple, strawberry must be pulped to extract the juice. The fruit pieces are pushed through a perforated metal plate that crushes and turns them into a pulp.
Some fruits can be pulped in a liquidizer and then filtered to remove the fruit pieces. Entrepreneurs can go for automatic or manual equipment for extraction, or either large or small sized extractors depending on cost and production capacity.
The freshness and quality of the expressed fruit juice is central to the quality of the final product. As soon as the juice is extracted from the fruit it starts to deteriorate, both as a result of chemical activity (enzyme action) and bacterial spoilage.
It is important to undergo some form of training to understand the process for the best natural fruit juice. It also important to understand permissible preservatives that can be used for fruit juice not consumed immediately. Some natural juice sellers know how to joggle customers for a few minutes while they extract the desired fresh juice instead of adding preservatives.
One seller said, “If you are doing it right, you may not have cause to worry about using preservatives as your loyal customers can wait a few minutes for the extraction process.”
The business is catching on and with your vehicle, or mobile cabin, you can take a corner piece on a busy road side or neighborhood from time to time to operate your delightful juice bar business.