Just The Berries introduced blackcurrant ingredients into the US in 2004, with the company setting up an office in 2005. The company sold $1.8m worth of blackcurrant ingredients in the US market in 2008, equivalent to 500 tons of fruit.
The company is now handing over all North American sales and marketing representative to New Jersey-based PL Thomas for its potent antioxidant ingredient, a rich source of potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamins A, B, & C, other trace minerals, organic acids, and many more phenolics, than any other fruits.
“Black Currant from Just the Berries is differentiated from all other black currant sources because of the large volumes of condition specific and pharmokinetic research that has been carried out using their unique black currant products,” said Paul Flowerman, president of PL Thomas (PLT).
“The ingredient is also distinguished by its appealing taste and aroma attributes, making this line suitable for a host of consumables ranging from dietary supplements, beverages, healthy processed foods and cosmetic applications.”
According to nutritional analysis carried out by the Crop and Food Research Institute, New Zealand black currants are a significantly richer source of anthocyanins than other varieties, containing an average of 570 mg of the pigmented compounds, compared with an average of 375 mg for the European blackcurrant.
The New Zealand Black Currant variety ‘Ben Ard’, grown by JTB and used in all of its extract products, contains more than 700 mg/100 g.
Sid Hulse, new product development manager at PL Thomas, told NutraIngredients-USA that blackcurrant is proven, through a lot of very good science, to be effective in supporting eye health.
“Specifically, eye health benefits have been demonstrated through improved night vision, increased blood flow, reduced eye fatigue and even improvement in short term myopia.
“The effectiveness of black currant is attributed to the general category anthocyanins. In fact, the primary active in black currant has been shown to be the anthocyanin Delphin-3-rutinoside (D3R) and Cyanidin-3-Gycosides (C3G) which are not present in bilberry.”
Hulse added that Just the Berries is unique among the producers of black currant extracts because it is the only fully vertically integrated producer – from bush to box – of black currant extracts, and the company does not use any chemical herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.
There is a “tremendous volume of research” supporting the potential effects of black currant anthocyanins, he said.
“There are a number of human clinical trials [particularly in Japan] showing the effects of black currant in humans,” said Hulse, “and the value of black currant extracts is clearly recognized in Japan, where black currant extracts play a predominant role in eye health products.
“JTB NZ black currant holds the dominant market share of the black currant extracts used in Japan. JTB’s expertise is in the development, growth, production and research of the best blackcurrant products in the world.
“Blackcurrant is still an underdeveloped product in the United States, and the joining of JTB and PLT for developing these products in the USA provides an opportunity to get the word out.”