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Raspberries: from substance to hype

Raspberry consumption is continuously increasing. Biochemical researcher, Jules Beekwilder, of the Wageningen Univesity and Research (WUR) has some experience with this fruit and still follows the raspberry's progress. More than ten years ago he published a piece stating that raspberries contain a special substance in considerable quantities. It is not found in many other types of fruit. This substance, called ellagitannins, is deemed to have very healthy, medicinal properties.

 "Just like vitamin C, this substance is a kind of 'anti-rust'. This is a popular name for anti-oxidants, says Jules. "You find ellagitannins in small amounts in strawberries and pomegranates but other than that, nowhere else. We wrote a comprehensive article about this that no-one really read. The press release stating that raspberries contain this substance was, however, picked up by many media outlets back then. It became a real hype and, then years later, it is still being written about."

The researcher cautiously makes a casual connection between the WUR study about ellagitannins and the continued upward trend of raspberries' popularity. "It certainly helped. Raspberries already had a good image and they were ready for it. They offer something extra and are easy to eat." Jules points out that, on average, people live longer and want to stay healthy. "People are very interested in what nutrition can mean for their health. This is also given a lot of coverage in the media. Research into their ingredients can help make fruit and vegetables more popular. Clever communication and a tasty product go hand-in-hand with this."

Figures from the GroentenFruit Huis show that raspberry sales took off in 2017. The retail sales rose by 35% compared to 2016. This means there are business opportunities. BerryWorld (o.a.VK) and Beekers Holding BV (Nederland) recently merged to make use of the market opportunities on a large scale. Geert de Weert of Advanced Berry Breeding is not surprised by this rise in sales. In recent years, there have been investments in, among others, new varieties with better flavour, quality, and shelf-life. "Buying this product is almost never disappointing and they are now available year-round. The health factor has also contributed to this rise in sales", Geert told AGF.nl.

For more information:
Wageningen University & Research
Jules Beekwilder

Publication date: 3/6/2018


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