Looking for the latest local Ontario beverage? A fruit orchard in Niagara plans to make fruit-based spirits from ugly fruit, or bruised fruit that would otherwise be thrown away or culled. By the end of this year or in early 2020, bottles of cherry, plum, pear, peach and nectarine spirits will soon be hitting LCBO shelves, offering consumers a fruity taste of summer in a glass.
With funding from the Greenbelt Fund, A.J. Lepp Orchards has partnered with the Niagara Orchard and Vineyard Corp. to purchase new distilling, pasteurizing and bottling equipment to produce the new fruit-based spirits. Harvesting will begin in fall 2019 and bottling in early 2020.
Approximately 10% of all Niagara-grown tender fruits are wasted each year due to bruising or defective appearance. The unused fruit is typically composted. But the opportunity to reduce field-side food waste and turn the unwanted fruit into a new, consumable product creates new opportunities for Ontario tender fruit growers. This project is projected to yield more than $1.3 million annually in new local beverage sales.