Thursday, 07 May 2020 10:02

NZ blackcurrant sales surge

Written by  Nigel Malthus
CurraNZ co-founder Fleur Cushman says NZ blackcurrant sales have surged in the UK in the wake of COVID-19. CurraNZ co-founder Fleur Cushman says NZ blackcurrant sales have surged in the UK in the wake of COVID-19.

A UK-based company, believed to be the single biggest exporter of New Zealand blackcurrant product, has seen “very strong” sales as consumers in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic seek healthy dietary supplements.

CurraNZ produces blackcurrant extract capsules marketed as a dietary supplement, and for sports nutrition, performance and recovery.

“We have seen very strong sales up here in the UK, New Zealand and Australia as well,” the company’s co-founder, New Zealander Fleur Cushman told Hort News.

The company says its antiviral and antimicrobial supplement is shown to boost the immune system, and Google Trends have “unsurprisingly” shown that searches on boosting immunity have peaked to record highs in the last few weeks.

However, Cushman is at pains not to be claiming blackcurrant as a cure for coronavirus.

“What we have seen is good science that has come out of Japan and Iran particularly. High-impact recent papers are showing that blackcurrant does have anti-viral effects and it does support the immune system.”

Cushman explains that the dark colour of blackcurrants comes from a class of antioxidants called the anthocyanins. High levels of both polyphenols and anthocyanins are linked to New Zealand’s – especially Canterbury’s – high summer UV levels and cold winters.

“We only use a specific variety of New Zealand blackcurrants because they have particularly high levels of anthocyanins, and the climate has an awful lot to do with that.”

Cushman says New Zealand fruit is of such high quality that they can produce an extract of 35% -- so 105mg of each 300mg capsule is guaranteed to be anthocyanin – which she adds fruit manufacturers elsewhere in the world struggle to achieve.

Cushman says she first went to Britain to follow a career as a horse racing journalist, although the family business in New Zealand “kept calling me back.”

Her now late father Mike Cushman, who founded the Clinicians Supplements range of dietary supplements, first alerted her to the potential of blackcurrants, as shown by early Plant and Food findings. Subsequent work at the University of Chichester showed their potential for sports nutrition, recovery and performance.

With a UK partner, she launched the company in the UK in 2014 and in New Zealand in 2017. It now also has a distribution base in Australia.

CurraNZ product is sourced from a co-operative made up of about eight of New Zealand’s dozen or so growers.

For commercial reasons, Cushman won’t reveal where the extraction is carried out, but final production of the capsules is done in the UK. She says it’s not feasible to do it in New Zealand because, with elite sportspeople including Tottenham Hotspurs and High-Performance Sport NZ among their customers, it has to be done at sports-accredited facilities to avoid falling foul of anti-doping rules.

Meanwhile, Cushman said research into blackcurrants was now moving from sports nutrition into the health sciences. 

She said research into anthocyanin was taking on a life of its own.

“It’s no longer me trying to door knock and trying to garner interest from scientists based on a small amount of evidence – now we field research requests from all over the world.” 

More like this

Overstayers irk farmers

A new law preventing the eviction of tenants from rental properties is causing a headache for some dairy farmers.

Distributor focussing on farmer support

AGCO Australia and New Zealand has announced plans focused around protecting the welfare and livelihood of its customers, employees and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fonterra’s big break

Former Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden believes the co-operative will come out a stronger global player post-COVID-19.

Featured

ANZCO makes a $30m profit

Meat company ANZCO Foods recorded its best-ever revenue of $1.7b and a net profit before tax of $30.6m for the year ended 31 December 2019.

 

M. bovis – we’re making headway

Ministry for Primary Industries chief science adviser, Dr John Roche on the indications New Zealand is winning the fight against Mycoplasma bovis.

Delays ruled out on water reforms

Delaying the introduction of new water reforms was not an option according to the two cabinet Ministers directly involved – Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

$700m for freshwater clean up

The Government has announced a $700 million fund to support the primary sector and other groups in meeting new clean water standards.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Dirty water

The Hound understands that Federated Farmers has been cut out of the information loop, for the past year, on the…

Who’s paying?

Your canine crusader noticed a full-page ad recently run in a farming paper calling on meat companies SFF and Alliance…

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter