Royal approach: Queen Garnet plum growers branch into FMCG and functional ingredient business

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Queen Garnet plum. ©Nutrafruit
The Queen Garnet plum. ©Nutrafruit

Related tags: Australia, quercetin, Anthocyanin

Australian company Nutrafruit is evolving from growing Queen Garnet plums, to making FMCG products and now developing a functional ingredient from the plums.

The Queen Garnet plum (Prunus salicina​) is a Japanese blood plum cultivar which was created by plant breeders who were trying to come out with a disease-resistant version of the Japanese plum under a breeding program by the Queensland Government.

It is said to contain high levels of quercetin and anthocyanins, with the latter responsible for the fruit’s deep purple appearance.

A study conducted in 2014​ found that the anthocyanins and quercetin content in Queen Garnet puree is 10 ± 0.08 mg and 3.2 ± 0.03 mg per five grams respectively.

This is greater than the amount of anthocyanins and quercetin found in another Japanese plum known as Black Diamond, which has 4.5 ± 0.07 mg of anthocyanins and 1.2 ± 0.02 mg of quercetin per five grams. 

Established in 2010, Nutrafruit owns the exclusive global commercialisation licence to the Queen Garnet plum and is supported by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in developing scientifically-backed natural products.

The company first started with growing and selling the Queen Garnet plum and later, developed FMCGs such as plum juice, plum nectar, powder, and probiotic chewables under the brand Queen Garnet about four to five years ago.

Queen garnet plum powder
Queen Garnet plum powder

With the commercialisation of Queen Garnet plums, researchers from local universities, such as The University of Wollongong, started to find out more about the functionality of the plums. 

A RCT published on Clinical Nutrition​ in March this year showed that the consumption of Queen Garnet plums together with a high fat, high energy meal could reduce the potential postprandial detrimental effects of the high fat diet, including cardiovascular risk and inflammatory responses.

Another study published on Nutrition Research​ in 2017 showed that consuming the plum juice had significantly reduced blood pressure.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Mark Styan, who is in charge of projects at Nutrafruit, said that the company, together with fellow Australia-based plant extract firm Native Extracts have managed to extract the plums' bioactives into a liquid form.

The liquid extract can then be freeze-dried into powder and incorporated into a health supplement.

The liquid extract, sold under the name ESS Queen Garnet EssenXce 4:1, has been officially launched last month by Nutrafruit and Native Extracts through their online channels. 

According to Lisa Carroll, director and innovator at Native Extracts, the firm uses the cellular extraction process, which is a cold process, closed system, high pressure, and rapid extraction designed to maintain the integrity of the natural molecules. 

"It operates cycles of high pressure and relaxed states, leveraging gradients to transfer phyto-compounds across the cell membrane and be suspended in a liquid medium/matrix...It is optimised to 4:1 ratio, removing the majority of the solvent to deliver high value nutrient dense liquids,​she said.

“We want to keep the ingredient as close as nature as it can be and preserve its bioactives as much as possible,” ​Styan emphasised, adding that both companies have been working on this project for the past one year. 

“Interestingly, the Queen Garnet plums only have two groups of anthocyanins while other fruits contain a wider range of anthocyanins. This means that the Queen Garnet could deliver two groups of anthocyanins in high amounts, instead of spreading across many things,” ​he said.

The two groups of anthocyanins found in Queen Garnet plums are cyanidin-3-glucoside and cyanidin-3-rutinoside.

FMCG offerings

Nutrafruit’s FMCG Queen Garnet products consist of probiotic and prebiotic powder, probiotic chewables, plum nectar, and plum powder. 

queen garnet probiotic chewables
Queen Garnet probiotic chewables

Its probiotic and prebiotic powder is made up of the Queen Garnet plums, inulin as prebiotic, and Sabinsa Corporation’s trademark ingredient Lactospore Bacillus coagulans ​as probiotics.

On the other hand, its probiotic chewables contains the Queen Garnet plum powder, with Lactobacillus acidophilus ​and Bifidobacterium lactis ​as probiotics.

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