Fruit preparation companies Agrana Group and Yantai North Andre Group (YNA) have teamed up to form their second joint venture to produce apple juice concentrate in China.

The companies said today (17 March) that each partner will hold a 50% stake in the new company, named the Yongji Andre Juice Co. with plans to double its processing capacity of 140,000 tonnes of apples per year by 2009.

For the past two years, Agrana and YNA have operated the JV Xianyang Andre Juice in Xianyang, China, producing 'sweet' apple juice concentrate.  The company, which employs 180 staff, said that it is "currently increasing its capacity by 50%".

Agrana CEO Johann Marihart said: "This second joint venture in China is another important strategic step toward growing our business segment 'fruit' on a global basis. It strengthens Agrana's presence in the fast growing Chinese market and consolidates our strategic alliance with Yantai North Andre. The Chinese production joint ventures perfectly complement our distribution activities. While Yantai North Andre is the market leader in 'sweet' Chinese apple juice concentrate in the US, Agrana is one of the leading apple and berry juice concentrate producers in Europe."

The transaction is subject to the approval of the respective antitrust authorities, the company added.

Agrana owns a fruit preparation plant North of Beijing and runs two sales offices in Beijing and Shanghai.