Plant-based Products

President: Antonio CASANA - SOLANA S.p.A., Secretaries: Guido CONFORTI, Gianni FORNI, Elena RIPA

  • Jams, Marmalades And Fruit Preserves
  • Vegetables Preserved In Vinegar, Brine, Oil And Mushrooms
  • Fruit And Vegetable Juices And Nectars
  • Fresh-Cut Fruit And Vegetables
  • Jams, Marmalades And Fruit Preserves


    In Europe, jams, marmalades, jellies and chestnut purée s are defined by directive 2001/113/EC, implemented in Italy with legislative decree no. 50 of 20 February 2004. By jam we mean a mixture of pulp and/or puree of one or more species of fruit, sugar and water. The minimum amount of pulp and/or puree is identified according to the type of fruit, but in general it cannot be less than 350 grammes per 1000 grammes of finished product. In principle, the above also applies to extra jam, but generally the minimum pulp content cannot be less than 450 grammes per 1000 grammes of finished product. Marmalade is a mixture of one or more products obtained from citrus fruits (pulp, puree, juice, aqueous extracts and peels), water and sugars. The minimum amount of citrus fruits used for the production of 1000 grammes of finished product cannot be less than 200 grammes. Chestnut purée is a mixture of chestnut puree, water and sugar. The minimum amount of chestnut puree used for the production of 1000 grammes of finished product cannot be less than 380 grammes. Jelly is a mixture of fruit juice and/or aqueous extract obtained from one or more fruit species and sugars. The minimum amount of fruit juice and/or aqueous extract used for the production of 1000 grammes of finished product cannot be less than the amount set for the production of jam. Fruit preserves are in syrup, natural juice and water and there is no specific legislation for the product.


    According to one of the most famous stories, the invention of orange marmalade dates back to Catherine of Aragon. After she married the King of England, Henry VIII, it appears that only this sweet product was able to help the Spanish queen overcome her terrible nostalgia for the fruit of her country. Queen Maria de Medici is the protagonist of another curious legend. After her marriage to Henry IV, Maria moved to France, closely followed by a private procession of Tuscan cooks, pastry chefs and ice cream makers. When the queen was diagnosed has having severe vitamin deficiency (in particular vitamin C), some of the men at court were sent to Italy to get the most precious citrus fruits of the time, the Sicilian ones. However, the journey back to Paris was too long, especially on horseback, so in order to preserve the fruit in the best possible way, special boxes of jam were prepared bearing the inscription “per Maria Ammalata”. Some misread the label as “poir Maire ammalate”, “por marimalade - marmelade”. In reality, despite the more or less colourful legends that have been handed down to us, we know with certainty that the origins of jam are much older. According to the Roman recipe book attributed to Apicius, dating back to the 4th-5th century AD, the Greeks were already boiling quinces with honey to thicken the sugars and obtain a preserve. In Ancient Roman times, fruit was immersed in a mixture of raisin wine, cooked wine, must or honey for the same purpose. Only honey and wine were used as simple sweeteners in Ancient Greece and Rome, with sugar only appearing in Europe during the Crusades. According to many documents, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that there was a jam produced with a method very similar to the current one. With one substantial difference: at that time, in the absence of refrigeration systems, the addition of sugar was necessary for long-term preservation. Thanks to the considerable amounts of cane sugar imported from the colonies, jam gradually spread into northern European countries and with it the term “confiture” ̶ deriving from the Italian verb “confettare” (to confect) ̶ used in ancient times to indicate food preparations intended for conservation. Over time, sugar became the only sweetening ingredient in these preparations, gradually replacing both honey and must, and the term confection took on the meaning of covering food with sugar. As for fruit in syrup, originally it served to preserve seasonal fruit so that it would be available in late autumn, winter and early spring.


    In 2017, about 70,000 tonnes of jams, marmalades and fruit preparations were produced in Italy, and approximately 28,000 tonnes of canned pears in syrup.


    Directive 2001/113/EC relating to fruit jams, jellies and marmalades and sweetened chestnut purée intended for human consumption. Legislative Decree no. 50 of 20 February 2004 - Implementation of Directive 2001/113/EC.

    Vegetables Preserved In Vinegar, Brine, Oil And Mushrooms


    These products can be divided into two broad categories:

    “Acid preserves”, in that the production and stabilization methods, as well as the preservation times and conditions of the same, maintain the pH at a maximum of 4.6: 1. Acid preserves covered with liquid: mainly one vegetable or mixed vegetables, whole or cut, covered with preserving liquid consisting of aqueous solutions of vinegar and/or acidity regulators.
    2. Oil preserves: mainly one vegetable or mixed vegetables, whole or cut, previously acidified by immersion in aqueous solutions of vinegar and/or acidity regulators, then covered with oil.
    3. Liquid-free vegetable preserves: one vegetable or mixed vegetables, whole or cut, previously acidified by immersion in aqueous solutions of vinegar and/or acidity regulators, and then packaged without any liquid or sauce.

    “Non-acid preserves”, preserves with pH> 4.6:
    1. Products with reduced water activity: mainly vegetable-based preserves that undergo one or more technological processes to reduce the activity of the water present in the preserves themselves.
    2. Non-acidic vegetable preserves with or without liquid or oil: one vegetable or mixed vegetables, with pH> 4.6 and stabilised by sterilisation.


    The practice of preserving food in salt, vinegar and oil has ancient origins. The action of these substances makes it possible to maintain the main organoleptic characteristics (consistency, flavour, smell, colour) of the vegetables for various lengths of time, and to protect them from alterations that would compromise their edibility.


    In 2017, the Italian production of vegetables in oil, vinegar and brine was 81,300 tonnes, divided as follows:

    Sweet and sour vegetables: 5,000 t
    Vegetables preserved in vinegar: 10.900 t
    Vegetables preserved in oil: 32,700 t
    Table olives: 23,100 t
    Rice seasonings: 9,600 t


    “Dried mushrooms” refers to the product that after natural or mechanical drying, has a moisture content not exceeding 12% + 2% m/m. Only mushrooms belonging to the Boletus edulis species and related group can be placed on the market with the name “porcini mushrooms”. Only the commercialisation of the wild and cultivated fresh mushroom species listed in Annex I of Presidential Decree no. 376 of 14 July 1995 is permitted. The mushroom species listed in Annex II of Presidential Decree no. 376 of 14 July 1995, can be preserved in oil, vinegar and brine, frozen, or otherwise prepared.


    The use of the fruiting bodies of fungi for food purposes can be traced back to our prehistoric ancestors, who ̶ driven by hunger and curiosity ̶ discovered that some of the fruiting bodies of higher fungi were edible. The preservation and trade of edible mushrooms arose soon after, and there is evidence of the mushroom trade dating back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. More than a thousand edible ectomycorrhizal mushrooms are currently consumed around the world, and many more species have yet to be registered, particularly those in Africa and South America.


    Deep freezing
    Freezing processes make it possible to maintain excellent organoleptic properties in most species of ectomycorrhizal mushrooms, and guarantee the availability of frozen mushrooms throughout the year. Frozen mushrooms are sold in different forms: sliced, diced and whole. The continuity of the cold chain is a critical control point in all stages of the production, storage, transport and sale of frozen mushrooms, and must always be strictly monitored by the food industries within their self-control systems, based on risk analysis and critical control points (HACCP). Deep freezing is a process that makes it possible to exceed the temperature zone of maximum ice crystal formation at the necessary speed – depending on the nature of the product – and to continuously maintain the temperature, after thermal stabilisation, at -18 °C (or lower) throughout the product.

    Preservation in brine
    The preparation of pickled mushrooms consists of a short amount of time cooking in salted water, usually slightly acidified with citric acid, followed by cooling and soaking in strong brine. After 10-15 days of fermentation in the brine, the mushrooms are drained and soaked in fresh brine. A different salting process is used in some countries: after harvesting, the mushrooms are immediately pressed, salted (solid salt) in small barrels and then transported to processing plants, where they are washed under running water, classified and immersed in strong brine. Mushrooms preserved in brine are normally used for industrial processes, i.e. to produce mushrooms in oil, sauces, or other mushroom-based products.

    The mushrooms are dried by reducing the moisture content through moderate heating and air exchange. The maximum water content for dried mushrooms is set by international quality standards (FAO/WHO 1981) and Italian regulations, and must not exceed 12-14% of the total weight. The drying process has significant effects on the colour, texture and smell, and consequently determines the commercial value of dried edible ectomycorrhizal mushrooms. A constant flow of hot air is required (no higher than 60 °C). Edible ectomycorrhizal mushrooms are not usually blanched or pre-treated chemically, just cleaned and sliced, manually or mechanically. Edible ectomycorrhizal mushrooms can be dried at home (often roughly chopped with varying thicknesses, and dried in ovens or in the sun), or processed in apposite collection/processing centres, where they are cut by machine and systematically dried in large drying ovens equipped with air flow and temperature controls.


    In 2017, wild mushroom imports were divided as follows:

    fresh mushrooms: 7,360 t
    dried mushrooms: 1.355 t
    mushrooms preserved in brine: 9,662 t
    frozen mushrooms: 20,019 t
    mushrooms preserved in vinegar: 234 t

    Fruit And Vegetable Juices And Nectars


    100% fruit juices, nectars, juices and pulp. The market offers a wide range of products with fruit as an ingredient. Both fruit juices and fruit nectars are governed by European legislation. In fact, according to Directive 2001/112/EC and subsequent updates (2012/12 EU of 19 April 2012), fruit juice is a fermentable, but not fermented product, obtained from the edible parts of healthy ripe fruit, fresh or preserved by refrigeration or freezing, belonging to one or more fruit species and having the characteristic colour, smell and flavour of the fruit it is obtained from. The smell, pulp and cells obtained from the same species of fruit by suitable physical processes may be added to the juice. Let’s take a look at the most popular products...

    100% Fruit Juice
    This product is obtained entirely from squeezed fruit. Like the whole fruit, the juice is made up of about 90% water, vitamins, mineral salts and phytochemicals deriving from the squeezed fruit, and the remaining 10% is the fruit’s natural sugars. European legislation does not permit the addition of preservatives, sugars and flavourings to 100% fruit juice. Nevertheless, WHO places sugars contained in fruit juices in the category of “free sugars”.

    Fruit nectar
    This is the product obtained from fruit juice or fruit puree, or both, to which water and possibly sugar or sweeteners are added. The addition of a very limited number of additives is also allowed, which essentially perform an antioxidant or acidifying function, while the use of preservatives, food colourings and flavourings is prohibited. European legislation establishes that in Italy nectars obtained exclusively from fruit puree can be defined as “succo e polpa di… (juice and pulp of ...)”. Nectar is usually produced with fruit with a lot of pulp, such as pears, peaches and apricots. According to the Directive, the minimum amount of fruit in the nectar must be between 25 and 50%, depending on the type of fruit. For the most well-known and most consumed nectars in Italy (orange, pear, peach, apricot, apple), the minimum percentage of fruit is 50% (40% for apricot). Although the Directive allows for the addition of sugars to nectars, up to a maximum of 20% of the total weight of the finished product, the actual average amount of added sugars for products manufactured in Italy is between 8 and 10%, depending on the type of fruit.

    Fruit-based drinks
    Products that do not fall under the classification “juice (100% fruit)” or “fruit nectars”, come under the category of fruit-based drinks.


    Juices and pulp were invented in Italy in the 1960s, when the canning industry established itself by processing the typical national fruit: pears, peaches, apples and apricots are all fruit with a lot of pulp, which can’t be “squeezed”, and therefore it must be processed until it is reduced to a puree. The Italian term for these fruit juices is "succo e polpa", and as the products were recognised as being typically Italian, the first European Directive in the 1970s left the name in Italian without translating it.


    In 2015, more than 38 billion litres of juices, nectars and fruit drinks were consumed worldwide, with Europe representing the largest market, followed by North America. Last year, Europeans consumed 9.6 billion litres, with a per capita consumption of almost 19 litres. Germany ranks first with an average of 29 litres per person, followed by the UK and Spain. Italy ranks below the average, with a per capita consumption of 11.3 litre. The pursuit of nutritional balance and the trend towards a healthy and varied diet, induces consumers to look for products that offer a reduced intake of added sugars and a high fruit content, preferably organically grown fruit, especially with antioxidant properties, such as blueberries and pomegranate. On the Italian market, the two most popular types of packaging are single-serve boxes (about 32% of the total), suitable for children to take to school, and family-size cartons/bottles (up to 1000 ml - 45% of the total), confirming they are mainly bought for home consumption: Italians consider fruit juices a practical solution for breakfast or a snack. If we analyse the global market of juices, nectars and fruit-based drinks, consumer preferences are oriented towards the following flavours: peach (17%), pear (16%), ACE (carrot, orange, and lemon) (15%), apricot (8.5%), pineapple (7.7%), orange (5.7%), apple (4.8%) and other flavours (25%). With reference to the segment of 100% juices (about 14% of overall consumption), orange juice represents 26%, pineapple 24%, apple 14%, tropical fruit mix 14%, grapefruit 11%, mixed berries 2.5%, pear 2.3% and peach 2.2%*.

    * IRI data (based on Italian discount stores) updated in September 2016


    The production process for nectar involves two stages: transforming the fruit to puree (semi-finished product) and the puree to nectar. This is because fruit like apricots and peaches are only available for a very short period and they are delicate, so preserving them is impossible. The fruit is harvested, washed, pitted, chopped and sieved. Once the pulp has been obtained, ascorbic acid is added to avoid variations in colour. The pulp is pasteurised at 100 °C for 30 seconds.

    This heat treatment aims to:
    - inactivate the enzymes that cause the pulp to turn brown (pigment oxidation);
    - inactivate pectinolytic enzymes (these enzymes destroy pectin that can cause a decrease in viscosity, an undesired phenomenon because the juice must have a certain viscosity);
    - kill microorganisms;

    The semi-finished product is then transferred to aseptic tanks and stored until it is time for the puree to be transformed into nectar. The first stage of this transformation involves mixing the puree with other ingredients (water, sugar, citric and ascorbic acids), which are stored in separate tanks.

    The nectar is then pasteurised (HTST - High Temperature Short Time - pasteurisation by means of a heat exchanger), after which it can be either cooled and packed in aseptic packaging, like juices packed in cartons, or packed while still hot in glass bottles, which are then passed through heated tunnels to complete the pasteurisation process.


    Fruit juice is obtained by removing all or most of the fibre from the puree. Examples: orange juice and apple juice.
    Orange juice is prepared by extracting the internal part of the fruit with special machines called extractors, after which the juice is separated from the fibrous part with sieves and filters. The juice is then concentrated to eliminate most of the natural water content, allowing it to last longer and reduce storage volume. Before being packed for consumers, the juice is returned to its initial state by adding back the water extracted in the concentration stage with drinking water, after which it is pasteurised and packed in aseptic packaging.
    The production process for apple juice, on the other hand, is different. The apples are crushed (they are particularly resistant to extraction) with the addition of an extraction aid (usually enzymes that dissolve the fibres) to facilitate the extraction of the juice and increase the extraction yield. The “pure juice”, i.e. the cloudy juice, is obtained by pressing. To maintain this cloudiness, the juice is subjected to heat treatment at about 100 °C, in order to inactivate the pectinolytic enzymes that would attack the pectin, leading to the clarification of the product. Ascorbic acid is then added to avoid colour variations. To obtain clear juice, the extracted juice is filtered and then heat treated.

    Fresh-Cut Fruit And Vegetables


    Fresh-cut fruit and vegetables are those fresh vegetables and fruit that, after harvesting, are subjected to minimal technological processes aimed at ensuring their hygienic safety and enhancement, following good processing practices. These treatments are mainly based on the maintenance of the cold chain, which must in fact be a constant that accompanies the fruit and vegetable product in all its phases, from post-harvest to consumption. Therefore, Fresh-cut fruit and vegetables are defined as fruits, vegetables and, in general, fresh vegetables, with a high service content, packaged and ready for consumption.
    The Fresh-cut products combines genuineness and aspects of ease consumption and thus provides a food that well responds to the main trends of food consumption: towards packaged and ready-to-use foods, suitable for the family model and the presence of women's work outside the home, with a high natural content and health requirements (healthy). Among the advantages of buying fresh-cut products, time saving is one of the fundamental aspects, but also important are the low caloric content, the richness of fibers and mineral salts, antioxidant properties, voluminousness and practicality.


    The Ready-tp-eat category has entered the everyday life of 80% of Italian families.
    Buyers - 19.9 million
    Volumes - 108.7 million kg
    Turnover - EUR 728.3 million

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