Blackcurrant extract to compete with blueberry in Europe

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Market Fruit Europe

Just The Berries hopes its blackcurrant nutraceutical will help the
New Zealand firm break into the European market, which it says is
currently dominated by blueberry and bilberry.

The company is determined to crack the continent with its Australasia type of berry, which is high in anthocyanins, primarily by targeting the eye health supplement market. Blueberry is currently one of the fastest growing fruits in the UK. According to market analyst AC Neilsen, sales of blueberries have rocketed by £55 million (€81 million) in two years, from £40 million (€59 million) in May 2005 to around £95 million (€140 million) in the same month of this year. On the other hand the UK blackcurrant industry is valued at £10m (c €14.6m). Just The Berries has already seen a hard-won success in Japan, which too was a market dominated by blueberry, when it launched some eight years ago. This success, the company said, was partly due to the market looking for the next "trendy product" to come along. This success can be repeated in Europe, where the company will be promoting the health benefits of their particular type of blackcurrant, which is said to be higher in antioxidants than the traditional European variety. The group is already working with German company CPC Wolfgang Muhlbauer GmbH to look for outlets for its extract. Simon Tavendale, sales manager, said sales in Japan tripled in a year, although he declined to reveal to the actual figures. Tavendale said the blackcurrant extract can be used in range of products, not just as supplements, but could also be used as a food ingredient and for flavuoring. New Zealand produces five per cent of the world's blackcurrants. Last year's harvest was around 8,000 tonnes, 90 per cent of which is intended for export. Much of the reason for Japan's prominence lies with its established health and functional foods market. According to New York-based market analyst Paul Yamaguchi and Associates, the total nutrition market in Japan is worth around US$27 billion (€21bn). Just The Berries has already seen some difficulty in breaking Europe after launching earlier this summer. Tavendale added: "Since going over to Europe we have seen the European market does not rate blackcurrants as well we would have thought.​ "Blackcurrants seem to be underestimated in Europe." ​ In fact the launch took place in May and sales have yet to take off, he said, but remained determined it can turn the tables on this, particularly after a smaller crop was seen from Poland this year. "Europe is our third market, already have a presence in the US as well. It is still very early days in Europe. We will continue to promote the health benefits and have gone into Europe knowing it won't happen over night.​" said Tavendale. The group has an office in Los Angeles which opened two years ago, and the company says sales turnover has increased "considerably​" since opening, but still trails behind Japan. The brand of berry in the firm's Currantex powder is the Ben Ard variety, which has a high anthocyanin content thanks to the environment it is grown in, the company said. Just The Berries said clinical trials have shown this high content has a positive effect on preventing eye-related diseases including eye discomfort, visual fatigue and age-associated degenerative eye disease. Other clinical studies have linked blackcurrant to having a positive effect on Alzheimer's disease.

Related topics Suppliers Polyphenols Eye health

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