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Smart cartridges offer premium juice

Minute Maid Foodservice's latest venture in juice dispensing technology is Minute Maid® Premia, a new, high-tech dispenser designed to eliminate imprecise mixing of water and juice concentrate.
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Labeling

Often overlooked by operators at foodservice institutions is that juice concentrates have varying viscosities which require varying ratios of water. Through its work with manufacturer Lancer Corp. (San Antonio TX) Houston-based Minute Maid Foodservice div. of Coca-Cola Foods has solved this problem with a juice dispensing system that greatly simplifies mixing and dispensing thus minimizing error on the part of foodservice employees. Integral to the system is its dispensing cartridge. Though it looks to be a simple container it's actually a complex 15-component cartridge injection-molded by Tech Plastics (Fremont AZ). Made of high-density polyethylene it includes pump components mixing elements and a dispensing nozzle to hold 5 L of juice or juice drink concentrate. To use operators first remove a tamper-evident polyvinyl chloride shrink band from Tech Plastics. It's placed on the dispensing nozzle prior to shipment. The cartridge is then inserted into the dispenser. The low-density polyethylene sleeve label from SleeveCo (Dawsonville GA) offering operator instructions nutrition labeling information and a large Minute Maid logo does not need to be removed. What makes this dispensing system unique is what Minute Maid calls its "Ratio Recognition Label" an unusual pressure-sensitive bar code-like label developed by Lancer and Minute Maid which is applied to the side of the cartridge for each of the varying viscosities. It's made of 2-mil metallized PE stamped in black and supplied by AC Label (Tempe AZ). When the cartridge is inserted into the dispensing unit the bar code is read by an infrared scanner. This works with an on-board microprocessor to signal dispensing of a precise amount of temperature-regulated water. The result is precisely mixed and chilled juices every time. When it's empty operators simply throw the fully-recyclable cartridge into the recycling bin. Shipped frozen the cartridges have a one-year shelf life; after thawing shelf life is ten days. Spokesmen at Minute Maid Foodservice admit that the packaging cost per gallon is up to five times the amount of Minute Maid's least expensive dispensing systems but is comparable to other closed system dispensers on the market. However says Minute Maid operators are willing to pay the upcharge-ranging from 2.7 to 4.2 cents per ounce-because Premia's fast (2.75 to 3 oz/sec) dispensing capability and ability to deliver consistent cold juice will result in increased sales for them. Minute Maid Premia was introduced nationally to foodservice outlets this month. Thirteen varieties of Minute Maid Premium juice and juice drinks are available.

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