An eight-month project to explore the bioactive properties of New Zealand cherries to better understand their potential health benefits has attracted research funding and is now underway.
The High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge has awarded a development grant of $55,000 to Cherri Health and Manufacturing (CH&M).
CH&M will collaborate with the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence at Massey University in Palmerston North to identify commercial opportunities for six popular Otago-grown cherry varieties as functional health products.
It has been widely reported that cherries provide significant health benefits such as:
- decreasing markers for oxidative stress
- reducing inflammation
- improving exercise-induced muscle soreness and loss of strength
- regulating blood pressure
- lessening arthritic symptoms
- improving sleep.
The research is building on earlier work that suggests that other fruits grown in New Zealand tend to have enhanced bioactive benefits over and above those grown overseas due to high exposure to ultraviolet light under the NZ sun.
Phil Alison, CEO for Cherri Global and its subsidiary companies, says the research will not only have a positive impact on CH&M, but also the wider summer fruit category and Aotearoa as a whole.
“We are excited by the results that this project is set to deliver, and the prospects that will come out of validating cherry bio-actives including identification of high-value food opportunities from second-grade cherries and/or cherry waste.”
Mr Alison says the production of CG&M’s (and other Otago cherry growers’) new plantings will see a huge surge over the next five years. This means there will also be a significant increase in the volume of subsequent waste.
Turning this waste into a health-enhancing product will help the taiao, create new jobs, and offer extra hauora benefits to consumers.
“The New Zealand cherry industry is globally recognised as producing high quality products. Increasing the knowledge of how New Zealand-grown varieties may have particular health promoting attributes will increase the value of this sector further,” says Joanne Todd, High-Value Nutrition Challenge Director.
The HVN Challenge is a mission-led programme of innovative research into the health attributes of New Zealand-produced foods for our major export markets.
The Challenge has through its contestable process recently approved a large number of innovative projects that will be completed together with industry and business partners.
High-Value Nutrition is one of the 11 National Science Challenges.
The Challenge has $45 million of funding for 2019 – 2024.
Its website is https://www.highvaluenutrition.co.nz.
Source: High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge