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Ārepa Gains MPI Compliance On Packaging, Files Self-Substantiated Food-health Claim, Publishes New Studies

New Zealand food tech company Ārepa continues on its journey of discovery with several major developments in the first half of 2024.

Following a letter of improvement from MPI in late 2023 about compliance with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, the Ārepa team has worked closely with MPI to update its website and packaging.

Ārepa co-founder Angus Brown says all new packaging is now compliant and will be seen on shelves in the next six months.

“We have updated the packaging of our Brain Drinks as well as our Brain Powder. This takes the form of an asterisk on the front of each product and links to claims on the back.”

The asterisk-indicated message states:

*Drinking Ārepa reduces tiredness and fatigue and helps with normal psychological and neurological function thanks to the high Vitamin C content in our Neuroberry® Blackcurrants as part of a healthy and varied diet.

Ārepa has also filed seven self-substantiated health claims to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) after compiling a comprehensive dossier of scientific research. Once substantiated by MPI, these will allow the company to communicate science-backed health claims around the L-Theanine in its products.

After more-than three years in progress, two new scientific studies have been published that were done on Ārepa.

Brown says these studies presented interesting findings that warrant further research.

“While more research is required for us to make further substantiated claims around Ārepa’s formula, the results of the studies are certainly exciting,” he says.

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The first study, available in full on MDPI, reported on specific blood biomarkers which were measured during a study into the effects of Ārepa on cycling performance. These measures included Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF helps neurons grow and make connections and is important for cognitive processes like learning and memory.

University of Auckland scientist Dr Lillian Morton led the study. She says:

“Exercise is known to elevate levels of BDNF, and the findings that exercise in combination with polyphenols resulted in higher levels of BDNF compared to placeboPL and exercise was unexpected. The sample size was small, and future studies would need higher sample sizes to verify the findings from this study. There is value in exploring the potential of exercise in combination with NeuroberryBC, or other anthocyanin rich fruit, in ambient air conditions, particularly in populations at risk of cognitive decline.”

A more recently published study using Ārepa focused on mood and cognitive performance in a cohort of healthy women is available in full here and was published in Current Developments In Nutrition - A journal for the American Society of Nutrition.

The study assessed the effects of consumption of the Ārepa drink vs placebo on stress response, gut microbiome, mental performance and mood.

The study was led by University of Auckland scientist Dr. Nicola A Gillies, who says:

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that improvements to mood and cognitive function have been observed in healthy female adults for the constituent ingredients in a flavonoid rich blackcurrant beverage. These were secondary outcomes of the research, so how we interpret these findings needs to be done with caution. The findings do warrant future research in a study specifically designed to investigate these outcomes, and with longer term follow up to understand whether the effects are true”.

Both studies were part funded by New Zealand’s Royal Science Challenge High Value Nutrition.

Ārepa founders Angus Brown and Zac Robinson also recently travelled to the USA where they attended Natural Products Expo West and Future Food San Francisco, two of the world’s leading food and nutrition industry events.

Meetings held here saw Ārepa invited to join MISTA, one of Silicon Valley’s leading food tech accelerators, backed by Givaudan and Danone.

Brown says it was an amazing opportunity to present their science to people who live and breathe food tech.

“When we presented our science and tech to some of the leading incubators, venture capital funds and global multinationals, they were all incredibly impressed that we had developed this from our own backyard in New Zealand,” says Brown.

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