Luciano Nascimento wanted to create gorgeous fruit juice that conjured up warm tropical nights and the taste of the exotic. The Brazilian born, now Fiji-based Luciano first made the move from Brazil to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2008. 

While here he and wife Vera set up a cleaning business as well as purchasing juicing equipment. Scanning the market, he saw the fruits on offer namely apple, orange and kiwifruit were already high usage in the burgeoning fresh juice market. 

Luciano felt it wasn’t the right scene for him, and so he waited.

Fiji – ripe for the picking

Luciano was on mission in Fiji in 2015 when he walked past a fruit orchard full of delicious – an unused – mango. It was his ‘light bulb’ moment. 

“I feel very strongly about food wastage. It was such a shame that so much of that delicious fruit was just going to rot on the ground.

“I knew juicing would be a fantastic way to use the produce/ To create a high-quality product and have meaningful impact on the surrounding communities,” said Nascimento. 

“Back in Brazil it is so common to be able to enjoy fresh local fruit as a healthy and tasty treat”, says Luciano. 

“Juice mixes are still the main staple in Fiji, which is surprising, especially with all the fresh fruit available. I realised this had to do with the capacity to turn the fruit into juice, as well storing it. For me, the idea was ‘let’s make tasty beverages from fruit that locals know, love and enjoy consuming’. 

Getting things moving

After doing his due-diligence Luciano decided to move juicing operations across to Nadi, Fiji. He reached out to the farmers about fruit collection. Luciano also engaged unemployed youths to go around the farms collecting the fruit.  

The fruit options consist of mangos, guavas, pineapple, passion fruit, soursop and watermelon. A pulp extracting machine removes the skin and seeds but retains the pulp. It also keeps the essential fibre from the fruit, which is a daily dietary necessity.

Packaging of the fruit pulp comes in various sized containers ranging from 90g portion easily storable in a home freezer. Luciano’s worked out the weight packaging according to the daily serving size of each fruit. This means the weights do vary slightly.

“For a fruit like watermelon you need to have more juice pulp than the more concentrated flavour of the passionfruit. I’ve tried to make our freezable portion packs into sizes that the home consumer would use in one drink. We also can provide larger sizes suitable for hotels, bars, cafes, and restaurants.” 

Believing in the business

Over the years Nascimento has continued to invest in his business and has found that now he is having to turn away farmers who want to sell him their fruit. 

“We’d love to be able to take all the fruit we’re offered but are restricted to the amount of freezer space we have. We are looking into how to remedy that. Local farmers have told me how much of a difference it makes to them to be able to sell to us. With COVID placing extra pressure on Fijian farmers, and local villages it means a lot to our business that we can be a helpful part of this community while also producing a product people want to consume.

 Thinking outside the box

“In addition to our fruit pulp business we also have a store in Votualevu in Nadi called IceFruit Fiji. We sell juice and fresh fruit ice blocks and have recently put out a call on our Facebook page for people who want to sell the fruit blocks from their own homes (if they have the freezer space). We also make jams to order from the pulp. We’re thinking holistically about how our product to the consumer.” 

Icefruit Fiji fruit pulp is all-natural, grown in the beautiful Fijian sun. The sweetness of the fruit means no added sugar is needed. 

Get amazing Icefruit pulp now

Icefruit is available for New Zealand consumers by contacting Luciano directly – you can email him on contact@icefruitfiji.com, or call him on 021802559. Consumer pricing ranges from $12 – $15 per five frozen pouches. 

For stores, wholesalers, distributors, or those in the food service industry we recommend getting in touch with Trade Development Manager Rohan Lord – 021 791 476 or email him on rohan@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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