Editor's Spotlight

Passion for powerful berries leads to business success for UK couple

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Haskapa
© Haskapa

Related tags haskap berries Antioxidant Antioxidant activity Novel food ingredient

A couple who discovered the power of the Haskap berry while in Canada developed so much faith in their qualities, they have set up a company dedicated to the power fruit.

Haskapa was founded by husband and wife team Evie, a doctor, and Simon, a ‘green’ entrepreneur.

They say the berry is a powerful combination of their love of science and nature and that the love affair started almost completely by accident.

A study​ has shown that one of the advantages is that overall performance and the time it takes to recover from running can be improved by using extracts from these little-known berries, a study suggests.

Haskap berries, also known as honeyberries are a rich source of cyanidin-3-O (C3G), a naturally occurring anthocyanin which acts as an anti-inflammatory, is also anticarcinogenic and has positive effects on hypertension and tumours.

Haskaps are among the most nutrient-dense berries where a single cup serving contains four grams of fibre, 24% vitamin C, 25% Manganese and 36% vitamin K.

Simon said: “When we purchased that first woodland, growing haskap berries was a very small part of our sustainable forestry plan.  Gradually the berry grew in importance and now Evie and I work passionately to research the superfood powers of the haskap berry and promote its consumption in healthy formats.  There remains so much to do, but it’s a journey of discovery we both love and want to share​.”

Ainu people

When they heard about the berry, the couple were intrigued when they found out it had been an undiscovered treasure known to the Ainu people of Japan, a select few academics at The University of Saskatchewan along with a handful of farmers in west Canada.

Simon says they were reliably informed that the berry was tasty, nutritious, hardy and well suited to long, cold Canadian winters, “we had to give it a try and make something of those rolling meadows​,” Simon explains, “and from the start we wanted a totally natural farm, chemical free, managed by and worked on by local people, and in harmony with the community and environment. It turned out those principles, though challenging, were eminently achievable once we found the right farm manager​.”

Haskap berries although delicious fresh have a limited shelf life and in the early days, although Simon and Evie were making award-winning products from the berries including juice, jam, chutney, jalapeno relish and ice-cream, there was not enough of the superfood nutritional properties of the haskap berry.

Simon said: “We discovered that to deliver berry health from a remote Nova Scotian orchard environment to a distant kitchen table can really only be achieved through freezing, first on the field when the berry is freshly harvested, and later in a freeze-drying plant where state of the art vacuum chambers ensure that the haskap berry’s natural goodness is captured in a shelf life stable state, to be sold in consumer friendly pouches.

We searched but we found no other product format that can get anywhere close to the nutritional delivery that freeze-dried powder can generate.  That is why, as a superfood company, Haskapa’s signature product is 100% berry freeze dried powder.  Evie and I totally believe that the haskap berry – with a colossal three times the antioxidants of a blueberry and four times the anthocyanins, plus it’s a Vitamin C high food  -  is so special that to serve it in any other format would be a waste of a precious resource​.” 

We remain amazed by the fact that just one pouch of Haskapa is equivalent to 800 haskap berries, and that one small teaspoon of this superfood powder is enough for a potent daily serving, equivalent to a handful of berries. 

At Haskapa, we have one mission: to tell the world about haskap berries and their extraordinary qualities. Why? Because nature and science are a powerful combination.

Nutrition perspective

Evie added: “I felt that from a nutrition perspective there was much more to this berry than its distinct flavour, so at Haskapa, we set out to capture the berry’s unusually large amounts of naturally occurring anthocyanins.

After years of research and product development, a freeze-dried powder was created, retaining the high levels of the berry’s natural bioactive content. Haskapa’s signature powder product was launched in the UK in 2019 and is now being distributed across a growing number of countries.”

The couple says the nutritional content of the haskap berry has created significant scientific interest. To date, Evie has coordinated eight multi-disciplinary Haskapa research symposia at Dalhousie University, for the broad benefit of the whole haskap industry.

She concludes: "At Haskapa, we are proud pioneers in taking the haskap berry to a wider world. We passionately believe that a healthy diet is a key factor in maintaining lifelong health and wellbeing. The humble haskap berry has purple power in abundance. Oh, and it tastes amazing too.​"

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