The South African company, based in the Western Cape, said that it already offers a rosehip powder but applications are limited because this does not dilute in water.
However, the new rosehip extract is water soluble, opening up opportunities for different applications such as yoghurts and ready-to-drink beverages.
Studies have linked rosehip to bone health and suggest that it can reduce osteoarthritis pain. This makes it particularly attractive to food manufacturers addressing health and wellness and nutraceutical trends, according to Billy Smith, marketing executive at Afriplex.
He told FoodNavigator.com that rosehip was likely to be popular among sportsmen and added: “There is a lot of interest in South African plants at the moment and it is possibly down to the 2010 World Cup that is it going to be in South Africa.”
However community projects are also a big concern for customers and Smith added: “They are looking more at corporate responsibility rather than just basic business ideals.”
He said Afriplex aims to ensure that people living close to the source of the plant material actually benefit from it.
Rosehip is grown mostly in the Lesotho Highlands and bordering provinces of South Africa, although it also grows in areas of Eastern Europe.
The company said it developed the extract due to demand from its customers, both domestic and international, and claims it has already had an enquiry from a cereal manufacturer in Europe.
It estimates that the market for rosehip in Europe is worth between €10m and 12m over the next three years.
Researchers, from Denmark and the US recently concluded that extracts from rosehip may reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis by 37 per cent, according to a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
They said in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage: “Although based on a sparse amount of data, the results of the present meta-analysis indicate that rosehip powder does reduce pain; accordingly it may be of interest as a nutraceutical, although its efficacy and safety need evaluation and independent replication in a future large-scale/long-term trial.”
Other South African plants are also gaining worldwide interest, including baobab, which is tipped to be the headline superfruit of 2009, according to Mintel.
Afriplex together with trade association Phytotrade Africa, successfully petitioned for dried baobab pulp to gain novel foods approval for the EU, which was granted in June.
The fruit grows primarily in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.