Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, have their origin in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Mongolia. Due to their nutritional value, goji berries have been part of a staple fruit diet for generations in Asia, especially in China, where they are considered superior food.
The westerners applied the “superfood” label to goji berries and happily adopted them in their diet, especially under the form of dried goji berries. Dried goji berries look like raisins and can be consumed as a healthy and delicious snack mixed with cereals, oatmeal, yogurts, or in combination with various raw nuts. It’s obvious why goji berries are so popular today among westerners: they are tasty, exotic, low in calories and abundant in vitamins and antioxidants.
For centuries, goji was harvested at the high altitudes of the Himalayan mountains, a geographical region where the only available preservation method was drying. Today, the progress of freezing technologies started a new trend for goji processing: IQF goji berries. IQF goji berries are obtained using individual quick freezing technology, a method of freezing that preserves their natural shape and taste, offering a unique taste experience for the final consumers. IQF goji berries actually taste better than their dried version, offering a fine balance between sweetness and sourness. The innovative IQF technology opened new business opportunities for goji processors who started turning their attention more and more to IQF goji berries.
The business opportunities IQF goji berries bring over dried goji are sometimes not than obvious: in order to obtain 1 kg of dry goji you need 8 kg of fresh product, whereas with 8 kg of fresh goji you obtain 8 kg of IQF goji, or even more, considering the volume increase during freezing. The business opportunity results from the fact that the selling prices per kg for IQF goji and dry goji are very similar, somewhere between 5 and 9 USD. Basically, producing IQF goji is 8 times more profitable than processing dry goji.
Another advantage of producing IQF goji is that goji is a product that is processed relatively easy. When it comes to pre-processing, goji berries are normally washed after being picked and pre-cooled in a cold storage before freezing, until the berries reach a stable temperature of +5C – very important for a better freezing capacity. IQF goji processors that use the OctoFrost™ tunnel freezer have reported that the final product presents another advantage: the integrity of the stem, which preserves the natural appearance of the goji berries, allowing them to sell them at a premium price.
The organic IQF goji is the latest trend on the goji market, representing an important investment opportunity for frozen fruit processors. Freezing goji berries using the OctoFrost™ IQF tunnel freezer in particular, has proved to bring multiple benefits such as a natural taste, texture and appearance, low dehydration levels and increased profitability.
For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch on www.octofrost.com