10 Nov 2017

Juiced the ticket

From Country Life, 9:18 pm on 10 November 2017

Moving the ingredients list from the back to the front of the bottle has been a marketing coup for family-owned company Mela Juice.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

When Brian Belluomini and Sarah Wright took over the juice-making business from Sarah's parents, they started celebrating the fact the juice was pressed out of single varieties on the back of the label.

"It wasn't obvious," Sarah says, "It was like in tiny little print. 'This is Granny Smith apple juice'."

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

She says each apple variety produces juice with a distinctive flavour; from sweet, fragrant Pacific Rose to tart, refreshing Granny Smith juice.

"So sometimes people would say 'Why did my juice taste different to last time?' so we thought why not make it into a thing so we decided to... bring the variety to the front of the label."

Mela Juice has its HQ in a former apple pack-house a few kilometres out of Greytown.

Wairarapa now only has one commercial apple orchard so apples arrive by the truckload from Hawkes Bay.

"They are either too big, not coloured correctly, too small, [have] blemishes, sunburn. I think it was just this year we got 70 bins of Granny Smiths and you couldn't find a reason why you wouldn't see it in the grocery store," says Brian.

"There was not one blemish, not one piece of rotted fruit, not a bruise, they were just a bit too small. We are talking mils too small."

Apple Pulp

Apple Pulp Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

The apples are juiced in a not overly efficient 40-year-old press that Brian and Sarah inherited.

"And we keep using it because it doesn't over-extract the apples because if you over-extract the apples the juice can get a little bit bitter. So this presses it a bit more gently than some of the newer apple presses that do get a higher yield but not the same quality," Sarah says.

Wellingtonians favour Granny Smith juice, but sweeter varieties sell better in Auckland, she says.