Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited general manager Ranbir Singh said the Punjab Agro’s initiatives to process kinnows in the liquor and juice sectors are aimed at boosting the economy of citrus fruit growers as the low-grade fruits will have a market and they may earn well. The in-house team of the agency is soon launching two variants of kinnow juice mixed with beetroot and carrots, he added.
After brewing a success story of the crafted kinnow-flavoured aromatic gin in May this year, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited (PAIC), a state-run agri-processing organisation, is elated after its in-house team has developed two juice variants of the ‘king fruit’ after stabilising its bitterness in taste.
Stakeholders said the unique natural taste was a major hindrance to marketing it in the packaged juice industry.
Officials associated with the project said on Sunday that the kinnow juice mixed with lemon and apple in another variant was launched in Chandigarh in July on a limited scale and it yielded an impressive response from the retail and catering sector.
PAIC general manager Ranbir Singh said the Punjab Agro’s initiatives to process kinnows in the liquor and juice sectors are aimed at boosting the economy of citrus fruit growers as the low-grade fruits will have a market and they may earn well. The in-house team of the agency is soon launching two variants of kinnow juice mixed with beetroot and carrots, he added.
“There is a potential to process more than 50,000 tonnes of kinnows of C and D grades. Kinnow juice has a distinct natural bitterness and after years of experiments, we are able to bring it to an optimum level. These juices stand distinct with a sugar content of 4-5% which makes them a healthier option than other packaged juice options in the market having up to 40% sugar,” he added.
The top official said it is important for farmers to segregate low-grade fruits before waxing, a popular technique to enhance the shelf life of fruits in which a layer of wax is put on the farm produce.
Punjab leads the country in the cultivation of kinnow with an average annual production of more than 5 lakh tonnes, with the Abohar belt alone contributing up to 60% of the state’s total production. The fruit is cultivated on nearly 33,000 hectares in Punjab.
A state award-winning kinnow grower from Abohar Arvind Setia said that the fruit has immense potential in the domestic and international markets and an organised food processing boost by PAIC may bring a change.
“Reducing bitterness in the juice was the main issue that kinnow could not create its space in the packaged industry. But PAIC’s achievement on this front has cheered us,” said Setia.
Another orchardist and kinnow trader from Gidderanwal in Fazilka district, Pardeep Dawra said that industrial use of lesser-grade fruit will have a positive impact on farmers.
“After a gap of two consecutive failed seasons, kinnow growers are hopeful of a bumper crop this year. Farmers are paid a meagre amount for under or oversized fruits, or when it bears marks. But if demand for quality is created in the food industry, farmers will get fair rates and give a much-needed boost to kinnow cultivation,” said Dawra.
State’s kinnow-based gin a success in Goa
PAIC roped in a Goa-based distillery having specialisation in brewing gin after a citrus-flavoured gin was conceptualised in research labs of the state agency. Officials said the alcoholic beverage was first rolled out in Goa where it was highly appreciated by the alcohol connoisseurs and tourists from abroad and India.
“After its launch was a success, we have tied up with the navy for supplies of the gin and the beverage will soon be available in the selected cities of the National Capital Region (NCR), Punjab and Chandigarh. Our team has initiated the process to attain permission from the excise authorities,” said PAIC’s Ranbir Singh.