Growing Futures

Discovering the natural goodness in blackcurrants

Discovering the natural goodness in blackcurrants

Scientific research that demonstrates the functionality of ingredients supports the marketing of new food products with validated health claims

Functional foods are foods that offer benefits beyond basic nutrition, and the global market for these products, currently worth more than US$25 billion, is rapidly growing. Fruits and vegetables have an intrinsic “health halo” and functional ingredients developed from natural produce are being increasingly sought by the food and beverage industry to meet the demands of premium consumers.

Consumers are becoming more aware of the natural benefits that can be found in products derived from dark-coloured berryfruit. New Zealand produces 8000 tonnes of blackcurrants every year, and New Zealand cultivars with demonstrated functional benefits command a premium in the global marketplace, either as functional whole foods or as ingredients for processed products.

Validating functional benefits

Scientific research has shown that extracts of New Zealand-grown blackcurrants offer potential beneficial effects – reducing muscle fatigue and damage as well as accelerating muscle recovery. In addition, some varieties of New Zealand blackcurrants have been shown to have twice the concentration of some of the compounds thought to be good for health than other varieties of blackcurrants.

Scientists are analysing New Zealand-grown berryfruit to identify and isolate the compounds that deliver additional benefits to consumers. This knowledge is being used in both the development of functional ingredients and the breeding of new varieties with optimal concentrations of healthful compounds.

Developing new functional products

A number of food companies in Japan, one of the most mature functional food markets, have shown interest in using New Zealand blackcurrants in functional products and using the clinical data to support the marketing of these products.

In 2011, Phiten Co. Ltd, a specialist sport, beauty and health product manufacturer, launched Cassis 5000, a new health drink using New Zealand blackcurrant extract as a key ingredient. The product retails for 273¥ ($4.30) for a 100 ml serving that contains 5000 mg of New Zealand-grown blackcurrant extract. Marketing of this product, aimed at young women with a healthy lifestyle, is supported by the scientific data that demonstrate the functional benefits of New Zealand blackcurrant extract.

The research is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and supported by Blackcurrants New Zealand.

Created: September 2012

Share this impact case study: