New Opportunities for Juice Stock Strawberries

Company Background
SunOpta Inc. is a leading global company focused on plant-based foods and beverages, fruit-based foods and beverages, and organic ingredient sourcing and production. SunOpta specializes in the sourcing, processing, and packaging of organic, conventional, non-GMO food products. Integrated from seed through packaged products, SunOpta has a primary focus on strategic vertically integrated business models.

Open Innovation Challenge
SunOpta is looking to valorize and commercialize one of our primary fruit byproduct streams, juice stock strawberries. We are seeking ideas for new applications and usage for juice stock strawberries.

Reason for Seeking External Innovation Partnership
SunOpta is one of the largest strawberry processors in North America. We work directly with strawberry growers to source berries that we process into a wide variety of frozen applications for retail, foodservice, and other ingredients.

When growers harvest their berries, there are berries that are not fit for retail sale per USDA regulations. The berries may have been damaged by heavy rains, extreme heat, have appearance defects or character flaws which disqualify them from the premium grades.  These berries are still safe to eat and have all the wonderful nutritional properties of any other strawberry.

As a processor, we buy these berries as good will towards our growers, which is industry standard, as part of the processor-grower partnership. Currently, SunOpta sells these as is at a very low price for industrial processing.

Sunopta is looking to add value to these juice berries to capture a higher price and margin in the marketplace. We are looking for ideas on what we can do with these juice stock berries in the form of product ideas, commercial ideas, etc. The big caveat is that these berries still have the calyx on (the small green leaves on top of a strawberry). Removing the calyx is very costly. As such, ideas must be for the entire berry, including the calyx. Possible products include frozen applications, purees, and blending with other fruits or ingredients.

Besides the commercial rationale for valorizing our byproduct stream, we are passionate about preventing food waste and want to make sure that every berry that comes out of the field can be used for healthy, human consumption.  We are passionate about reducing food waste in all ways, including from industrial processing. We want to work with all stakeholders to identify profitable, sustainable methods of reducing food waste in the fruit industry.

Scope of Solution Space

  • Focus on California Juice Stock berries with calyx inclusion
  • Ideas can span any commercial channel or brand as we go to market very flexibly
  • Frozen and refrigerated fruit solutions in scope,

Solutions Not of Interest

  • For regulatory reasons, we cannot package juice berries into individually frozen bags for retail.
  • Fruit solutions that entail removing the calyx (green leaves on top of strawberry)
  • Shelf stable applications

Proposal Response Date Deadline

Website Link  

Contact Information

SunOpta Inc. is a leading global company focused on organic, non-genetically modified (“non-GMO”) and specialty foods. SunOpta specializes in the sourcing, processing and packaging of organic and non-GMO food products, integrated from seed through packaged products; with a focus on strategic vertically integrated business models.

With about 1,800 global employees, SunOpta’s organic and non-GMO food operations revolve around value-added grain, seed, fruit and vegetable based product offerings, supported by a global sourcing and supply infrastructure.