Cider vinegar made from fruit juice is gaining popularity due to its health benefit. Acetic acid, the main component of cider vinegar, is known for improving digestive system and promoting blood sugar control. The market value of cider vinegar products is expected to reach USD 16 billion by 2027. However, Thailand occupies very little market share despite its abundant farm products. The lack of suitable technology is the main reason that has prevented Thai enterprises from entering this promising market.

Mr. Yutthana Kingcha, member of BIOTEC Functional Ingredients and Food Innovation Research Group, recently discussed the one-step fermentation process that BIOTEC-NSTDA developed for the production of cider vinegar. The research project was originated from the need of A&P Orchard 1959 Company Limited to develop an industrial-scale cider vinegar production technology to convert mangosteen surplus to a value-added product. The company could not afford 10-million-THB imported technology and thus turned to BIOTEC-NSTDA for its expertise in microbial biotechnology to engage in a joint research project.

The research team focused their work on two parts, namely starter culture and fermentation system. Starter culture was specially formulated by blending two types of microorganisms, i.e., yeast and acetic acid bacterium, to perform alcoholic fermentation and acetic acid fermentation simultaneously in one step. The fermentation system is based on a modular design, offering operational flexibility to contract and expand the production capacity. Each module - comprising four 100L food-grade plastic tanks - has a 280L vinegar production capacity. This one-step fermentation technology is cost effective, easy to operate and can be applied to a variety of raw materials. The finished product has unique fruity flavor and fragrance and consistent quality.

This one-step cider vinegar production technology has been employed to manufacture two commercial products. Sukina Drink is a cider vinegar made from mangosteen. The product is made by a joint venture between A&P Orchard 1959 and SQI Group. Another product is a pineapple cider vinegar manufactured by Sinar Brew Company Limited.

This technology is an example of the application of technology and innovation to create value addition to farm products under the Bio-Circular-Green Economy national agenda.