Clever Fruit Products and Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture is pleased to announce their partnership to research converting blueberries into high-value food ingredients.

The 4-year project is led by Dr. Vasantha Rupasinghe, Professor of Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals in the Department of Plant, Food, and Environmental Sciences at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture. The Industry and Alliance Program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is contributing $320,000 to be used to optimize a novel process to generate encapsulated food ingredients from fermented blueberry.

“This value-added agri-food process is a combination of ancient knowledge on generating health-promoting fermented food and innovative food technology,” Dr. Rupasinghe explained. “The new food ingredients will be assessed for their efficacy in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disorders, a rising health problem in Canada and worldwide that can lead to social and economic burdens.”

The funds will also help to train a new generation of food scientists.

“We are excited to begin this collaboration with Dalhousie. We have worked closely with Dr. Rupasinghe for years, and this agreement cements and expands the scope of our research” added Sean Sears, CEO of Clever.

Dr. Chris Cutler, Associate Dean Research at the Faculty of Agriculture, said, “this is an excellent example of an industry-academia partnership which can support value-added agricultural industries in Atlantic Canada. The use of local agricultural products as value-added ingredients will enhance the growth of our rural-based bio-economy.”

The outcome of the proposed research will contribute to the product diversification of Canadian blueberry and the health promotion and well-being of Canadians.

Interesting relevant facts:

• Blueberries are the number one fruit crop in Canada. Canada exported $410 million worth of blueberries in 2017. In the same year, lowbush blueberry production was 95,203 metric tonnes (67,384 hectares), which comprised 23% of the total farm gate value of all blueberries produced in Canada. Frozen lowbush blueberries made up 48% of Canada’s blueberry exports in 2016.

• Clever Fruit Products was established in 2017. The core activities of Clever is focusing on fermented non-alcoholic functional food ingredients targeted for the health-conscious market segment. Clever’s mission is to enhance the health of society by increasing the potency of fruit polyphenols through the application of advanced food ingredient manufacturing technologies.

• Dr. Rupasinghe, an internationally recognized food scietntist at Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, has contributed to over 200 peer-reviewed scientifc articles which has been cited over 10,000 times. He has been recognized as a Canada Research Chair, Killam Chair and Fellow of Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology. Curretly, Dr. Rupasinghe’s Food Bioactives Research Program consists of 3 postdoctoral fellows, 4 Ph.D. students, 3 M.Sc. students, and others.

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