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FALL 2011
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CALS Notes

Helping Welch’s Perfect Its Purple Juice

By Amanda Garris

In 2009, when Welch’s noticed a “green” aroma in their purple grape juice and puzzling color changes during processing, they turned to CALS’ Department of Food Science. The “green” aroma—reminiscent of grass or bell pepper—was sparking complaints from consumers.

Gavin Sacks, MS ’02, PhD ’05, assistant professor of food science, was able to identify the likely culprits—two compounds that were elevated in the green-smelling juice—and Welch’s is following up with studies this year to see how its production is affected by such variables as weather and vineyard practices.

The connection grew out of an existing collaboration between Welch's, Sacks, and Olga Padilla-Zakour, MS ’88, PhD ’91, the department’s associate chair, who were already studying a new processing method that retained the juice’s vivid purple color.

Using the new processing method, Welch’s made further investments in their Westfield, N.Y., facility, resulting in an estimated $239,000 in savings during the first year, according to John Pacheco, Welch’s director of grape technology.