An international task force meeting in Brazil last week under the aegis of Codex Alimentarius, the global food standards body, cleared a decision after difficult discussions on defining the identity of reconstituted orange juice.
The final recommendation will now move to be adopted by the Codex Commission, expected at the end of June next year.
"The final decision sets a range of 11.8 to 11.2 Brix to accommodate the needs of the European Union, as well as other countries," a spokesperson for Codex explained to FoodNavigator.com, adding that there was a clear consensus to establish the range.
The ad hoc committee on juice standards met in Fortaleza, Brazil, to reach an agreement on defining standards for reconstituted orange juice, the world's most widely sold fruit juice. In international trade the commodity is for the large part shipped as frozen concentrate, and reconstituted once it reaches the destination.
As such discussions in Brazil hinged on how much water can be added to the concentrated juice and still be labelled as orange juice. The final recommendation by the committee put the range between 11.8 and 11.2 Brix, measure of the sugar content.
The EU, currently the world's second largest orange juice market behind the US, pushed for an 11.2 Brix standard, which reflected the average for products sold there. While the Food and Drug Administration in the US calls for reconstituted orange juice to have at least 11.8 per cent Brix. Both levels reflect the consumer palate of their markets, and if fell on the ad hoc committee to reach a compromise.
"The negotiations brought about a consensus that accommodates the needs of all the countries involved in discussions," said the spokesperson, estimating about 100 people were present at the meeting.
The new Codex standard also contains a footnote that allows countries such as Australia and Portugal to sell their orange juice at less than 11.2 Brix on the world market because these countries, along with others in South America and some parts of Asia, do not obtain 11.2 Brix naturally at maturity. A footnote that stretches to apple and pineapple juices.
Beverage industry analysts Canadean report that North America is by far the biggest market for juice and nectars, accounting for over 35 per cent of the market. Canada's consumption has risen by more than 45 per cent since 1997, giving Canadians the highest per capita consumption in the world.
And while the US is the biggest single market in pure volume terms, it is Canada and Germany which lead the rest of the pack when it comes to per capita consumption. Orange is particularly popular there, with a share some 18 percentage points higher then the global average.
Total consumption in the US declined slightly in 2002 and is expected to have grown only modestly during 2003. Western Europe is the second largest regional market, Canadean claims demand there tends to be higher in the northern countries - in the south of the continent, fresh fruit is more popular.