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 under way.
High-Value Nutrition Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge has awarded a development grant of $55,000 to Cherri Health and Manufacturing (CH&M).
CH&M will work with the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence at Massey University to identify commercial opportunities for six popular Otago-grown cherry varieties as functional health products.
The research is building on earlier work that suggests that other fruits grown in NZ tend to have enhanced bioactive benefits over and above those grown overseas due to high exposure to ultraviolet light under the Aotearoa NZ sun.
Cherri Global chief executive Phil Alison said the research will not only have a positive impact on CH&M, but also the wider summer fruit category and NZ 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,” Alison said.
He said 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.