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FoodTech Report

Volume 8 Issue 2

Sustainability mission becomes way of life for Southern Gardens Citrus


With 16,500 acres of groves comprising 2.5 million orange trees, Southern Gardens Citrus is one of Florida’s largest orange growers. The company produces more than 100 million gallons of orange juice annually, and is the largest supplier of private label not-from-concentrate orange juice in the United States. Already renowned for its extensive operations, the Clewiston, FL-based company also is rapidly establishing itself as a sustainability leader.

The Southern Gardens Citrus corporate sustainability mission strives for “a resource conservation commitment” — making the most efficient use of nonrenewable and renewable resources to reduce costs and improve the environment, while increasing market competitiveness. Virtually every aspect of energy and water conservation is addressed by the company on a daily basis; for example, more than 160 million gallons of process water are reused for irrigation.

Ricke Kress, president of Southern Gardens Citrus, says the goals of his company’s sustainability mission are enhanced by the long-standing partnership it has with JBT FoodTech.

“This plant opened in 1994-95, and we’ve had a close working relationship all along,” he says. “We look at new technologies from an operational perspective and an environmental perspective – quality, cost, efficiency and all aspects of resource usage.”

For Kress, a major initiative that reduces costs and helps the environment is operating with a zero-waste mindset.

Avoiding waste

Avoiding waste starts with the more than 18 million boxes of oranges processed annually. The company prides itself on 100 percent utilization of all fruit material received – juice, pulp and peel.

“Our operation is set up such that every pound of oranges that we purchase, receive and process generates revenue for the business,” Kress says. “Nothing leaves this facility in the form of a waste material.”  

UCF 210A Citrus Finishers

UCF-210A Citrus Finishers

Southern Gardens Citrus campaigns just as hard to eliminate process inefficiencies. For example, the automated spray rings within the JBT FoodTech® UCF-210A Citrus Finishers improve juice flow through uniform and consistent screen cleaning. The automated spray rings also capture water with solids from the finisher to use as pulp wash, meaning additional water for pulp wash doesn’t need to be introduced for that process.

A holistic view of plant operations, including key performance indicators and real-time updates for water and energy use, is facilitated by the JBT FoodTech Plant InfoPort™ system. While processors like Southern Gardens Citrus have databases to record production, fruit procurement and other activities, that information typically isn’t linked together for easy access through one interface. InfoPort aggregates information from multiple databases — including enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and maintenance/financial systems — into comprehensive reports of the entire processing operation.

JBT FoodTech equipment also contributes to waste avoidance in many other ways:

  • The JBT FoodTech PulpView™ automated quick fiber measurement system replaces the manual shaker method, reducing time and improving extractor feed.
  • The JBT FoodTech Core Detector reduces energy needed for recirculation and diverting in the pulp recovery process, while simultaneously reducing pulp defects.
  • Separate automated cleanup systems provide effective cleaning of the pulp wash pasteurizer and pulp recovery heat exchanger, resulting in efficient heat transfer.  

Service, training contribute

JBT FoodTech service, training and auditing offerings help Southern Gardens Citrus identify opportunities for increased efficiency — and energy savings — through quarterly audits of aseptic processes that examine everything from sanitation, juice yield and technical analysis of in-line process data.

JBT FoodTech’s weekly and seasonal fruit operation audits investigate the centrifuge efficiency of the oil recovery systems at Southern Gardens Citrus, along with many other areas, to uncover further potential savings. JBT FoodTech also provides technical training to help Southern Gardens Citrus reduce energy and water use in areas as diverse as pulp and d’limonene recovery, pulp wash, extraction and finishing.

Taking a 360-degree view of the plant floor — from equipment purchases, upgrades and maintenance, to operator and management training — ensures equipment-related efficiencies are maximized at all times. The result is a cost-effective, streamlined operation that fulfills both Southern Gardens Citrus’ sustainability mission and the company’s commitment to quality.


For more information on JBT FoodTech citrus processing products, visit the JBT FoodTech website.


JBT FoodTech® is a registered trademark and Plant InfoPort™ and PulpView™ are trademarks of JBT Corporation.

©2010 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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