Exotic fruit development
An exotic fruit variety developed by The University of Queensland has received positive results from consumer testing and nutritional analysis.
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.
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.
Peak harvest occurs in early November in South East Queensland; however, this may be extended from early October into December, ideally to Christmas, through production in areas further to the north and south.
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 lilly pilly. Potential marketing targets were suggested to be ‘foodies’, middle- to high-income earners, parents, families and other health-conscious consumers.
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