A New Zealand neuroscientist’s research into recovery from brain injuries is set to provide a multi-million-dollar boost to New Zealand horticultural exports.
Dr Jian Guan led an Auckland University study with Otago University, which discovered that New Zealand blackcurrants contain elevated levels of cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP) – a key brain nutrient that normalises a hormone essential for overall body health.
This has led to development of a new export market with a distribution deal between cGP Max, an Auckland based company established to commercialise the discovery.
Meanwhile, a major food ingredients distributor in China will see the export of more than 10 tonnes of raw ingredients delivering cGP over the course of the next three years.
The new Chinese nutraceutical export deal is a welcome boost for blackcurrant growers in Canterbury and Nelson, with the majority of their 4,000 tonnes current crop yield destined for local beverage makers or the quick-frozen fruit consumer market.
Nadine Morris, spokesperson for cGP Max, says health supplement sales in China have grown 500% since Covid emerged.
She says per kilo returns from the blackcurrants used to create a value added cGP capsule are 18 times higher than the sale of the fresh berry.
“We know that China’s population is ageing faster than almost all other countries in modern history,” Morris explains. “As a result, we expect this country to be our largest export market for cGP, and our supply of the raw ingredient will see it developed into a range of functional food and beverages in the coming years.”
Morris adds that a process to extract cGP from blackcurrants, and other potential sources of the compound, has been patented in over 30 countries, providing IP protection while the company expands globally.
She says the climate and alluvial soils in Nelson and the Canterbury plains produce a blackcurrant higher in antioxidants (anthocyanins) and polyphenols than those found in Europe.
In addition, cGP Max has recently begun exporting orders of a new brain health supplement line to other countries including the United States, UK, Spain, Singapore and Australia – having first developed New Zealand as a test market.
The products are designed to supplement levels of cGP to normalise IGF-1 function, which naturally declines with age, but is essential for maintaining body and brain function.