Rejuvenating pear research

Rejuvenating pear research

A new research project conducted by CSIRO is seeking to better understand the health properties of pears to help improve and develop market and marketing opportunities.

In the spirit of APAL working closely with the industry to provide growers with essential tools and market opportunities to assist industry growth and increase the competitiveness of Australian apple and pear growers, APAL approached CSIRO in an effort to understand the current status of relevant nutritional science and evidence in relation to pear health benefits.

Funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA), CSIRO is currently conducting a scoping review and position statement for health enhancing and nutritional properties of pears.

Professor Manny Noakes, Research Director of CSIRO’s Nutrition and Health Program, is leading the work and spoke about what is known about pear health benefits at HortCon2015.

“Pears are particularly rich in sorbitol, as compared to other fruit, containing around three per cent sorbitol,” explained Manny.
“Sorbitol has laxative properties and processed pears are already used in products for gut health because they contain beneficial amounts of sorbitol.”

Manny also cited work that showed that some Asian-type pears may be useful in reducing blood alcohol and could be helpful in reducing the effect of hangovers. Could the next product be a ‘Pear-occa’, she asked.

CSIRO will deliver to industry a comprehensive literature review on pears and pear components and health measures, a summary of statements that can be used in communication about pears and if applicable, research recommendations.

APAL intends to use this information to explore potential product opportunities; harnessing science and nutritional evidence and in doing so, creating a value added positioning for the pear sector – capitalising on the potential, realising the opportunities and promoting the advantages of pears.

“What this means for the pear industry at large is that we will be better equipped and informed about the health and nutritional benefits of pears,” says Olivia Tait, APAL’s Market Development Manager. “And more importantly, we will be able to determine what messages we can go to market with in order to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions based on factual health claims.

“Positive and substantiated health claims have the potential to make consumers think twice about pears and hopefully that positive message translates to more pears in the consumers shopping baskets, both domestically and internationally.”

First published in Leading Agriculture Issue 10

Image credit APAL