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Non Technical Summary
US federally funded research and international research is connecting elderberry (S. nigra and S. canadensis) to the treatment of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, AIDS, herpes simples virus HSV-1 and influenza types A and B. Many of these studies have focused on the presence of high levels of antioxidants present in the berries of these perennial shrubs. Today, consumers understand the important role antioxidants play in human health and value of local and organic agricultural products. Virtually all elderberry-based nutraceutical products available in the United States rely on imported Sambucus nigra (the European elderberry). Retail sales of three imported elderberry syrups are among the top 10 of 662 herbal supplements available for adults. In 2008, Austria, a country the size of Maine, produced 19,200,000 pounds of elderberries. [Even if Maine were to meet just 5% of Austria's current elderberry production, more than $2.2 M USD could be generated for Maine's small and mid-sized farms.] To date, the US has not recognized the opportunity to develop commercial scale production of elderberries for national and international markets. As a result, two major issues can be identified: 1) US manufacturers of elderberry-based products are dependant on imported raw product due to inadequate domestic supply; 2) imported raw products in the form of juice concentrates do not carry forward the full phytonutrient profiles of the raw fruit due to degradation during processing resulting in inferior products. This Phase II project seeks to capitalize on an opportunity to provide increased revenue for small and mid size farms by supporting domestic elderberry production for high-value niche markets thus significantly decreasing manufacturers' dependence on imported elderberry products and increase competitiveness by offering consumers superior US produced elderberry products for national and international markets. Phase II has two objectives: Objective 1: Establish a reliable supply of US grown elderberries by supporting a growers' network of small and mid-size farms for commercial scale organic elderberry production. Objective 2: Conduct prototype development of nutraceutical products utilizing US grown elderberries. This project will apply innovative processing technologies to previously identified superior varieties of US grown organic elderberries. Anticipated Phase II results are increased US elderberry production supported by a growers' network, and Phase III commercialization of two organic elderberry-based nutraceuticals for national and international distribution. At the completion of Phase II, Eldertide will be well positioned to introduce a full line of elderberry-based nutraceutical products that leverage rapidly growing consumer interest to provide substantial income opportunities for small and mid-size farms.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
Objective #1: Establish a reliable supply of US grown elderberries by supporting a growers' network of small and mid-size farms for commercial scale production. A network of growers will be supported by outreach and education to enable them to develop the necessary skills for domestic production of elderberries as a specialty crop for high-value niche markets. Efforts will focus on training and developing skills prior to planting and cultivation of the four superior varieties of elderberries identified in Phase I. Technical questions: 1. What are the perceived barriers to growing elderberries as a specialty crop for new growers and for existing growers 2. What resources need to be made available for growers relative to financing agricultural infrastructure and facilitating connections to new and existing support systems Expected outputs: Participants will receive comprehensive education and training to grow elderberries as a specialty crop. Presentations will be archived for future reference and use. Selected participants will qualify for further support, offered post Phase II through Eldertide LLC and its strategic partners. Objective #2: Conduct prototype development of nutraceutical products utilizing US grown elderberries. This project will apply innovative processing technologies to previously identified superior varieties of US grown organic elderberries. Technical questions: 1. What effect do different juicing processes have on antioxidant retention, as determined by Total Antioxidant (TA) and Total Phenolic (TP) assays and HPLC profiles 2. When compared to the existing elderberry syrup (anthoimmune), does the elderberry syrup developed in Phase II demonstrate statistically significant improvements based on analysis of chemical, microbiological and sensory evaluation data 3. Does the new nutraceutical product developed in Phase II carry forward serving equivalent levels of antioxidants and demonstrate levels of safety and efficacy equal to the Phase II improved elderberry based on analysis of chemical and microbiological data 4. Does the new nutraceutical product developed in Phase II indicate above average overall consumer acceptance based on sensory evaluations data Expected Outputs: A prototype of one improved nutraceutical syrup and one new nutraceutical product.
Task 1: Support a growers' network of small and mid-size farms to develop the necessary skills for US commercial production of elderberries as s specialty crop for high-value niche markets. The methodology for Task 1 is based on experiential learning at a demonstration orchard, classroom instruction, farm visits, multi-media presentations, and follow-on access to information. Providing support for a growers' network will begin by preparing course descriptions, writing the curriculum and publishing materials for Eldertide's Elderberry School (EES). Following solicited participation in EES, Eldertide will host an initial meeting of growers. Utilizing the expertise of consultants and resources, the PI and Eldertide's horticultural liaison will create lesson plans based on class needs. Experiential learning, demonstrations and direct instruction will be the methods of instruction. The classes will conclude with a published plan for continued support. Task 2: Develop prototypes for one new elderberry-based nutraceutical product and one improved elderberry-based nutraceutical based on the blended juice formula developed in Phase I. The methodologies for Task 2 are based on standard microbiological and chemical quantitative tests assays conducted at the University of Maine along with qualitative sensory evaluations utilizing focus groups conducted at Oregon State University's Food Innovation Center. This project begins with a comparative evaluation of three juicing methods to determine the process most suitable for nutraceutical product development. Steam extraction, hand crank pressing and hydraulic pressing methods will be evaluated. The experimental design for each juicing method will be a 3 x 3 x 3 factorial study with each extraction method replicated three times and three samples being analyzed for each replicate. Data will be used for formulation of nutraceutical prototype products. Juice samples and dried powders created from those juices will be assayed for chemical attributes including total monometric anthocyanins and total phenolics and microbiological safety and stability will be determined for juices, powders and samples of new and improved nutraceutical prototype products. Sensory Evaluations will be conducted for three versions of a new elderberry-based nutraceutical product and for three versions of an improved elderberry-based nutraceutical product. Methodology will utilize Preference Acceptance Tests and Focus Group Sessions. Task 1 outputs will be evaluated for impact by an increase in Maine's commercial elderberry production as determined by acres in production and annual yields. Task 2 outputs will be evaluated for impact by prototype products demonstrating superior phytonutrient profiles as determined by chemical assays, along with verification of microbiological safety and stability, and consumer interest as indicated by results of sensory evaluations.