Positive results from consumer testing and nutritional analysis indicate a bright future for a new exotic fruit variety developed by The University of Queensland.
The bright to dark red attractive fruit of the Red Bayberry (Myrica rubra) have been produced in China for centuries, long and enthusiastically sought after for perceived health benefits as well as their refreshing and delicious flavour. Red Bayberry is a favoured crop of Chinese fruit producers in central eastern to southern China for its high commercial value, profitability and health benefits.
Professor Daryl Joyce at The University of Queensland has developed new Red Bayberry varieties that are thriving in the Queensland subtropics. His work has involved collaborations with Victoria’s and Queensland’s Primary Industries departments, and has received support from Australia’s Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation.
Professor Joyce said the small number of mature fruiting trees currently growing in South East Queensland started producing commercial yields of fruit just three years after transplanting.
“We were pleasantly surprised the trees grew so quickly and started fruiting after such a short juvenile period after transplanting. Many fruit trees don’t start producing reasonable volumes of fruit until maybe five or six years after transplanting. However, it appears that Red Bayberry responds well to the sub-tropical Queensland growing conditions,” said Professor Joyce.
UniQuest, The University of Queensland’s main technology transfer company, has initiated a commercialisation pathway for the new Red Bayberry varieties, based on the excellent performance in Queensland field trials and positive results from consumer testing.
UniQuest Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development, Cameron Turner, said the strong results suggest that Red Bayberry may become a new high value horticulture fruit crop in Australia.
“Peak harvest occurs in early November in South East Queensland. However, we expect to extend the supply period from early October into December, ideally to Christmas, through production in areas further to the North and South, respectively,” Mr Turner said.
Seeking investors as well as growers for commercialising this innovative crop, Mr Turner will be promoting the opportunity from UniQuest’s booth at the Ausbiotech conference, 27-30 October at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Site visits to an existing plantation on the Sunshine Coast from late October can be arranged by appointment.
Red Bayberry fruit are bright to dark red, round (2 to 3 cm diameter) and berry-like. The flesh has a slightly chewy texture, is sweet and mildly acid, and has a mulberry-like flavour. Fruit have a small cherry stone-like seed which clings to the red flesh.
Nutritional analyses of the Red Bayberry fruit in Queensland and in China and Japan show high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial phytochemicals.
Traditional Chinese medicine proponents believe Red Bayberry fruit provide many health benefits. Red Bayberries have high levels of oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). Studies have shown OPCs to hold potential anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, as well as cardioprotective effects in human beings.
Red Bayberry focus group research conducted in Brisbane revealed that consumers liked dark red fruit that was big and plump. The texture was generally well-liked and described as juicy, ‘explosive’, plump and fleshy. The flavour was described as intense and strong, with a good balance of sweetness and tartness that was refreshing, fresh and crisp. They were likened to mulberries and lillypilly. Potential marketing targets were suggested to be ‘foodies’, middle-high income earners, parents, families and other health conscious consumers.
UniQuest Pty Limited
Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year.
UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.
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