Developing science and business strategies to promote the health benefits of berry fruits was a key theme at a workshop this month between representatives of Plant & Food Research and the North Carolina Research Campus.
By sharing research capabilities and technology, and aligning research interests, the two organisations aim to enhance scientific outcomes and hasten the delivery of new findings which can be applied as commercial opportunities for the berry fruit industry.
The collaboration specifically aims at developing a robust dossier of scientifically-validated health claims for berry fruit, to help position them as a high-nutrition ‘go to’ food.
The berry fruit industry in New Zealand is valued at over $100 million.
The workshop identified four existing research programmes and two new research areas where add-value could be gained through collaboration, including work in cellular function and immunity, antioxidants and protein-binding, plant genomics, and skin health.
Targets around grant funding and the publishing of research papers were set, too.
The organisations from the NCRC involved in the research collaboration include North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Appalachian State University and the Dole Nutrition Research Institute.
Representatives from eight New Zealand companies and industry organisations were apprised of developments in research in areas such as berries and exercise, metabolic function, immune function, and the overall impact of berry consumption on human health.
Dr Roger Harker, Plant & Food Research’s Science Group Leader for Consumer and Product Insights, discussed the differences in consumer markets regarding fruit consumption, and perceptions around fruit and health outcomes.
The next workshop is planned for early 2017 and the the parties hope to hold additional meetings at least once a year.