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Article | April 30, 1996
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.
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 polyethylenesleeve 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. Learn about packaging innovation at The Packaging Conference in Orlando, February 3-5, 2014
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