German Fruit Juice Producer Uses Stevia as a Natural Sweetener

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17 Feb 2017 --- Part of the job at Glockengold Fruchtsaft AG is to taste fruit juice, ice teas, soft drinks and mineral water with around 30 million liters a year leaving the German company after being poured into beverage cartons labeled with a bell logo to signify the old belfry town of Laucha.

The raw materials for manufacturing the fruit juice come from all over the world: banana purée from Ecuador, orange juice concentrate from Brazil, apricot purée from Spain and apple juice concentrate from Poland. The fruit juice manufacturers draw the water from their own mineral spring and use local apples.

They are exported to more than 20 countries around the world including China and Israel. 

The tastings in the Glockengold consultation room are important to test the flavor of a juice with laboratory equipment.

“The tasting is not only for quality control, however, we also develop new products,” says chairman Chris Dabbert.

This is important, he says, because in order to have continued success on the competitive food retail market, innovation is needed and the ability to react to developments. One example is the increasing clean label trend. 

“If the label on it says juice, then there is juice in it and not something else.”

Glockengold is keen on experimenting in this regard. “We were the first manufacturers to successfully use Stevia, i.e. ‘sweetleaf’, as a natural sweetener in our juice drinks instead of sugar,” he adds. 

The Glockengold multivitamin juice drink sweetened with this herb is unique, according to Dabbert.

In general, the health aspect and naturalness of the products with the bell symbol is to play an ever greater role for the foodstuffs. 

With the wellness and balance lines with stevia sweetening, the company is already offering products which take into account the aspect of consumer health. 

“Balance” pear-peach-mango with soya and “Wellness” apple-grape-papaya plus ginseng are particularly popular. “I don’t know of any other manufacturer that has something like that in their range,” adds Dabbert.

The Dabbert name has been connected with beverage manufacturing in Laucha for five generations starting in 1888, when the great-great-grandfather of Chris Dabbert took over a beer shop in Laucha an der Unstrut and sold beer from various breweries as well as mineral water from his own production. Later, self-made lemonade was also added to the range. 

Founded in 1904, the present production site has its origins in a Thuringian preserve factory. 

Four filling plants now stand in Glockengold’s factory halls. A machine needs around 10 hours to pour 80,000 liters of banana juice into the soft cartons. On the company grounds, there are 70 tanks, which hold around four million liters.

The company supplies its cartons to chain stores, especially in eastern Germany and less than half of the sales take place abroad. In Sweden the logo with the bell from Laucha is on the shelves in virtually every supermarket. The turnover amounts to around €16 million euros a year. 

“We have gained many new customers. We are now very deliberately focusing more on our own brand and less on contract manufacturing for the chain stores,” adds Dabbert.

He is also focusing on vegetable juices - currently around one million liters of tomato juice is packaged in Laucha annually -  and exploring new packaging innovations. 

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