Market News

 March 26, 2007
Study shows organic fruit is healthier

 California, USA - A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis say they have proven that organically grown kiwi fruit contain more health-promoting factors than those grown under conventional conditions. The debate over the relative health benefits of organic versus conventional food has raged for years, as the advantages of organics besides the reduction in chemical releases to the environment are largely unknown.

The Davis scientists, led by Drs. Maria Amodio and Adel Kader, showed that organically grown kiwifruit had significantly increased levels of polyphenols, the healthy compounds found in red wine and coloured berries. They also had a higher overall antioxidant activity, as well as higher levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and important minerals compared with their conventionally grown counterparts.

Their work differed to previous studies, as they were able to compare like-for-like with kiwis grown next to each other on the same farm at the same time, in the same environmental conditions. Previous studies did not include phenolic compounds in the comparison.

The two categories of kiwifruit showed other differences which Kadel believes are most likely due to the fruits having to be able to survive against pests in the absence of pesticides. For example, organic kiwis had thicker skins, which could help the fruits resist insects, and higher antioxidant activity which is thought to be a natural by-product of stress.

However, some people are still unsure about the potential benefits of antioxidants and other compounds elevated in organic farm produce. Carl Winter, director of the FoodSafe Program at UC Davies, asks whether these increases in nutrients and antioxidants are of any appreciable health perspective. He is also concerned about any unknown negative effects on the health. "The authors also did not look for any plant secondary metabolites of potential toxicological impact."

The world market for certified organic foods was estimated to be worth US $23-25 billion in 2003 -- approximately 2.5% of the total food market - and is growing approximately 19% every year, making these products the fastest-growing sector of the global food industry.