Guidelines for small-scale fruit and vegetable processors

One purpose of this book is to document improved ways of processing fruits and vegetables at a scale that is appropriate for families and other groups of people to earn a daily income. This includes methods of business planning, work organization, marketing and quality assurance that are likely to be unfamiliar to traditional processors, but which are essential to ensure successful and profitable production. The selection of suitable products for small scale manufacture and the processes chosen to make them, require very careful consideration. It is not sufficient to assume, as many ‘advisers’ do, that simply because there is a surplus of a raw material each year, a viable fruit and vegetable processing venture can be created to use up the excess. There must be a demand for the processed food which is clearly identified before a business is set up. Otherwise the most likely result is to produce a processed commodity that no-one wants to buy with substantial financial losses to those involved.

The book is divided into two parts: first a description of some of the problems and issues that face people involved in home processing, together with some suggested solutions; and secondly a more detailed description of the various aspects that are involved in setting up a small food processing enterprise. There are sections on

  • Food security, nutrition and health
  • Selecting products and production methods
  • Conducting a feasibility study
  • Legal aspects
  • Establishing production facilities
  • Managing production and quality assurance
  • Contracts with suppliers and retailers
  • Marketing and record-keeping

In general the types of products that are suitable for small scale production are those which have a significantly higher value when processed. For example fruits and vegetables have a low price when in their raw state, but can be processed into a range of snackfoods, dried foods, juices, pickles, chutneys etc., which have a higher value. The high added-value means that the amount of food that must be processed to earn a reasonable income is relatively small. Hence the size and type of equipment required to operate at this scale can kept to levels that are affordable to most aspiring entrepreneurs.

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