Italy number one for antioxidant-rich kiwi supply

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New zealand

Supplies to food and supplements makers for the fruit that packs a
powerful antioxidant punch continue to grow as Italy, the world's
largest producer of kiwis, reports strong production figures for

A rich source of polyphenols, vitamins C and E, and folate, ongoing research into the health benefits of the kiwi fruit has supported strong growth for the fruit. Current global production stands at around one million tonnes, with Italy contributing over 400,000 tonnes to this figure in the year 2006 to 2007. New Zealand is next in line with about 250,000 to 300,000 tonnes, followed by Chile and a handful of other producers. China has ambitious plans to make a mark in the global kiwi market. On an investment of RMB 202.75m (€18.5m), the country aims to have 100,000 tonnes of kiwi online by 2010. But data released recently from Italy's National Institute of Agricultural Economics show production for the country's kiwis in 2007 is keeping the country in the number one position. Production rose by 9.1 per cent on the previous year; creating a market worth 297 million euros at basic prices, up a considerable 15.3 per cent on the year before. In recent years firms have been trying to harness the beneficial health properties of the kiwi fruit in order to target the rampant nutraceutical market. Leading New Zealand kiwi supplier Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, for example, that reportedly handles more than 27 per cent of New Zealand's crop, has extended its business portfolio into the nutraceutical world by marketing a kiwi supplement on the strength of its laxative benefits. Elsewhere, last year US-based Efficas applied for authorisation under novel foods legislation to market a concentrate produced from the 'hardy' kiwi as a food ingredient in Europe. KiwiBerry, a concentrate derived from the Actinidia arguta fruit, will be targetted at food makers seeking to raise the health profile for a range of food products, including beverages, cereals, confectionery and savoury snacks. The concentrate is produced by concentrating the hot water soluble components, then filtrating and evaporating them. The result is an ingredient in either liquid or powder concentrate form. "The production process has been shown to be tightly controlled and highly reproducible,"​ said the company. The ingredient, according to Efficas, contains vitamin C and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, but the fibre levels are lower than in the fresh fruit since most are not water soluble. Some flavonoids are present in the concentrate, as in the fresh fruit, but levels of anthocyanins are much lower than in fresh fruit since they are not heat stable. According to the firm, novel foods authorisation is required because the hardy kiwi fruit has not commonly been consumed in the EU, unlike its its cousin, the common kiwi. And the humble kiwi is even extending its reach to the global $1billion cosmeceuticals market. A company in New Zealand is seeking to make inroads into cosmeceuticals market with a new kiwi-derived ingredient comprised of an extract that is not normally eaten or digested. The first product from Kiwifruit Extract Venture Ltd (KEVL) was a kiwi oil that is rich in omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Already proving popular with cosmetics manufacturers in Europe and the US, according to chairman and executive director David Lowry, who founded the company in 2006 with Simon Spratt. But after teaming up with skincare consultant Grant Washington-Smith to delve further into the topical market, the pair were encouraged to look more closely at the specific bioactive components in the fruit. While most of the research to date has centred around topical application of the extract, Washington-Smith recently told that both the kiwi oil and the antioxidant extract can be taken orally in supplement form. "I do think that this product will end up being of interest to the cosmetics, either as a topical or a dietary supplement targeting beauty and skincare,"​ he said. So far, there is some evidence that 50mg of the antioxidant extract taken in oral supplement form can have an improving effect on skin - notably in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. "But this data is still being developed,"​ said Washington-Smith.

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