CAPITALIZING ON THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BERRYFRUIT: SCIENCE VERSUS THE MARKETPLACE

M.A. Lila
Today, the ready availability of sophisticated ‘omics’ technologies (genomics, transcriptomics, pharmacogenomics, and metabolomics) has permitted science to elucidate and confirm multiple human health-protective properties linked to consumption of the characteristic berryfruit phytochemicals. Wellness-promoting attributes of berryfruit components have been demonstrated in recent in vitro, in vivo, and clinical trials, but how much of the science translates into public awareness and, more importantly, dietary changes? Berryfruits are generally recognized as a healthy alternative, and after multiple years of publicity, the term ‘antioxidant’ can be recognized by the general public as a proactive route to avoid chronic human diseases; in particular, cancer. Still, most consumers have little awareness of other health-relevant properties linked to berryfruit constituents, including immune system benefits or anti-inflammatory properties, and fail to realize the associations between berry consumption and probiotic effects on gut microflora or improvement of insulin sensitivity and blood glucose regulation relevant to diabetes. In the USA, only 1% of the adult population (and 2% of children) consume the recommended amount (per USDA Dietary Guidelines) of servings/cups of both fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. In market trials hosted by major food companies, consumer panels are oblivious to words like ‘polyphenolics’, ‘bioflavonoids’, or ‘anthocyanins’, and label claims can be prohibited by regulation, thus the pertinent phytochemical content of key fruit introductions fails to resonate in the marketplace. Despite these actualities, scientific discoveries on the health attributes of the so called ‘superfruits’, when translated by the popular media and delivered to consumers at large, can be reflected in significant changes in the demand for certain fruit categories. The wild blueberry story is presented as an example of how research has positively and sustainably influenced sales for a commodity fruit group.
Lila, M.A. (2014). CAPITALIZING ON THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BERRYFRUIT: SCIENCE VERSUS THE MARKETPLACE. Acta Hortic. 1048, 123-128
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1048.14
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1048.14
berries, health benefits, metabolomics, popular press
English

Acta Horticulturae