Developing elderberries as a specialty crop by supporting a growers` network and by conducting prototype development of nutraceu

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
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Small Business Information
555 GARDINER RD, Dresden, ME, 04342
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Edie Johnston
(207) 730-0138
Business Contact:
Edie Johnston
(207) 730-0138
Research Institution:
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.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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