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Vital VegetablesR giving consumers what they want

Vital VegetablesR - giving consumers what they want

New Zealand and Australian vegetable growers have joined forces to fund a major research and development project called Vital VegetablesR with the aim of enhancing the health benefits of vegetables.

The project is the vegetable industries' response to market research which shows that consumers overwhelmingly seek food products that delivers a 'package' of desired attributes including: nutrition and health, taste, freshness, convenience and price.

VegFed (New Zealand Vegetable and Potato Growers Federation) and Ausveg (Australian Vegetable and Potato Growers Federation), together with the other project partners Crop & Food Research and Australia's Department of Primary Industries (Victoria) have embarked on a five year project worth some NZ$22 million. The project is supported by New Zealand's Foundation for Research Science & Technology (FRST) and Horticulture Australia Ltd.

Russell Jordan, VegFed vice president and chairman of the fresh vegetable sector, said New Zealand and Australian growers had been developing a cooperative approach to research and development over several years.

"Vegetable growers know they are producing food that is nutritious and valued by consumers. Vital VegetablesR will enhance that value by providing greater health benefits whilst ensuring freshness and flavour. These new products will be good for consumers and good for growers through new market opportunities."

Ausveg chairman, Mike Badcock said the initiative shown by the vegetable industries was a major breakthrough in growers' endeavours to better meet consumer requirements.

"The Vital VegetablesR project is our response to the changing market demands and to provide extra benefits in our vegetables. The project will develop new and exciting vegetable products that will enable growers to give consumer what they want," Mr Badcock said.

Both chairmen agreed the involvement of major food research institutes from both countries will bring excellent science to the project.

The project has gained the support of health and nutrition professionals from both countries.

The first output of the Vital VegetablesR project is a book titled "Antioxidants - a Health Revolution" by leading scientist in the field Crop & Food Research's Dr Carolyn Lister. The book provides a comprehensive and practical guide to the role of antioxidants in foods and the importance of fruit and vegetables in our diet.

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