Press Release
New Zealand ingredient for new Japanese health drink
New Zealand blackcurrants are one of the key ingredients in a new health product now on sale in Japan.

The new health drink was developed by Phiten Co. Ltd, a specialist sport, beauty and health product manufacturer. New Zealand blackcurrant extract was included as a key ingredient of the product, due to an increased understanding of the benefits of New Zealand blackcurrants as a functional food ingredient.

Alan Dobson, Managing Director of cooperative marketing agent New Zealand Berryfruit Group (NZBG), says this is the first time NZBG has developed a product using research specific to New Zealand berryfruit, and the first of many potential opportunities in the functional food market for New Zealand ingredients.

"The functional food market is rapidly expanding, particularly in the Asian markets," he says. "There is real value in having scientific information, as well as in-market assistance from our research partners, to support our unique product offering with these well-informed audiences. This collaboration between the New Zealand blackcurrant industry, New Zealand scientists and a specialist food manufacturer is the first of many potential opportunities in this area to add value to our berryfruit industry."

Blackcurrant grower body, New Zealand Blackcurrant Co-operative, also acknowledges the functional foods market as an opportunity to build value for the berryfruit industry with premium overseas markets.

"New Zealand's varieties, crop production methods and processing facilities are world-class, but it is difficult for our growers to compete in the international commodity market," says Mike Kearney General Manager of the Co-op "The functional food market provides the potential to leverage higher value for our ingredients and to build a successful brand with both manufacturers and consumers. It is encouraging to see this collaboration between researchers and marketers open the door to this highly attractive market."

Research, published in 2009 by scientists at Plant & Food Research, showed that compounds in New Zealand blackcurrants may have effects on sports performance and recovery, enhancing the body's ability to defend against disease and minimising muscle damage caused by inflammation and stress. Additional research published in 2010 showed that New Zealand blackcurrant extracts may also minimise lung inflammation in some forms of asthma.

Kieran Elborough, General Manager Science - Food Innovation at Plant & Food Research, hopes that the new product is only the beginning of positioning New Zealand berryfruit as a sought-after ingredient in high-value functional foods.

"We are pleased to have been able to support the establishment of New Zealand blackcurrants as a key ingredient in this new product, demonstrating that high quality ingredients, supported by strong science and business savvy, can succeed in the demanding Japanese market," says Dr Elborough. "Working with industry, we have a well-established research programme to investigate the specific functional benefits of consuming berryfruit, and we expect this to further boost the desirability of New Zealand ingredients in this and other markets."

Hiroshi Naka, General Manager Japan of New Zealand Berryfruit Group, says the research findings associated with health and wellness functionality, together with Plant & Food Research in-market support, were essential to Phiten's interest in including New Zealand blackcurrants as an ingredient in their new product.

"Having scientific data to support the unique benefits of New Zealand blackcurrants is a significant contributing factor to Phiten's interest in using the ingredient in their new product," says Mr Naka. "There are many opportunities available for new functional products in the Japanese market, and by collaborating with food manufacturers, researchers and growers we can build a favourable environment with both companies and consumers for New Zealand ingredients."

The new product, Cassis 5000, went on sale on 1 November in Japan. The product contains 5,000mg of blackcurrant concentrate per 100ml bottle, and is aimed at young professional women wanting a healthy lifestyle.

NZBG              - Ph: 64-3-544-5944/Fax: 64-3-544- 5945/e-mail: (English)
NZBG Japan  - Ph: 81-3-5776-6624/Fax: 81-3-5776-6625/e-mail: (English/Japanese)
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