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Production of a Value-Added Crop for Greater Human Nutrition

Award Information

Department of Agriculture
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
210 N 21st Street, Suite B Purcellville, VA 20132-3026
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Production of a Value-Added Crop for Greater Human Nutrition
Agency: USDA
Contract: 2011-02615
Award Amount: $460,000.00


The U.S. population has a deficit of dietary calcium that represents a serious challenge to public health. Many consumers, however, find current methods of increasing dietary calcium to be inconvenient, costly, or unpalatable. This SBIR Phase II proposal seeks to increase calcium levels in lettuce, a specialty crop that already comprises a significant part of the average U.S. diet. Successful Phase I results included demonstration of the ability to provide up to 150 mg of calcium per serving of Bibb lettuce, a level high enough to qualify the lettuce as a "good" source of calcium under FDA guidelines and more than eight times the amount of calcium available in commercial lettuce today, using a combination of bioengineering and novel hydroponic techniques. Moreover, most of the calcium in the lettuce is present in a bioavailable form that is efficiently processed by the body. In Phase II, elite commercial lettuce varieties provided by a leading commercial seed company will be transformed, hydroponic growing protocols will be optimized, a pilot demonstration will be conducted at a commercial hydroponic lettuce grower, and product quality testing including taste testing will be conducted by a university partner. Successful completion of the project will lay the foundation for introduction of a new value-added crop that provides better nutrition for consumers and a new source of income for agricultural producers. Planned commercialization activities include marketing of the calcium-fortified lettuce at regional farmers' markets, followed by nationwide distribution through grocery chains and specialty food stores.

Principal Investigator:

Mark P. Elless
Director of Technology
(785) 587-8200

Business Contact:

Michael J. Blaylock
(703) 961-8700
Small Business Information at Submission:

1500 Hayes Dr Manhattan, KS 66502-

EIN/Tax ID: 541916832
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No