Introducing the kakadu plum: Clean label's rising star ingredient that replaces chemical preservatives

By Kizzi Nkwocha

- Last updated on GMT

'With consumer trends towards ‘clean’ and ‘green’ products, and with the natural antimicrobial properties in the plum, the kakadu plum can potentially replace chemical preservatives used by the seafood industry,' said Mintel. Photo © ABC
'With consumer trends towards ‘clean’ and ‘green’ products, and with the natural antimicrobial properties in the plum, the kakadu plum can potentially replace chemical preservatives used by the seafood industry,' said Mintel. Photo © ABC
Kakadu Plum, an edible fruit produced by trees in the tropical woodlands of Australia, has emerged as a superfruit with antimicrobial properties that could replace chemical preservatives used by the seafood industry.

According to Mintel, Australian researchers exploring the properties of Kakadu Plum have been getting “stunning results” from using the fruit to improve the shelf-life and colour retention of prawns.

Mintel said: “With consumer trends towards ‘clean’ and ‘green’ products, and with the natural antimicrobial properties in the plum, they can potentially replace chemical preservatives used by the seafood industry.”

The seafood industry typically requires cooked prawns to have a shelf-life in excess of 14 days, and the Kakadu Plum tests have been extending prawns up to 21 days before spoilage.

Less artificial ingredients

Mintel reports that, according to its recent Fish and Shellfish US 2015​ report, over one quarter of US consumers would like to see more fish/shellfish without artificial ingredients such as additives and preservatives.

The small green fruit, also known as Gubinge, Murunga, Bush Plum, and Billygoat Plum, is also said to have the highest vitamin C concentration of any food on Earth.

Kakadu Plum contains between 1,000 – 5,300 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams. This is approximately 100 times greater than the vitamin C concentration of blueberries and oranges. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that improves brain function and fortifies the immune system.

According to Mintel, Kakadu Plum also displays superior antioxidant properties, containing both water- and oil-soluble antioxidants which are often low in common fruits and vegetables.

Harsh environment

Research by Australia’s Edith Cowan University suggests that native plants produce antioxidants as a means of protecting themselves from the harsh environment.

As global demand for the superfood grows, one of Australia’s first commercial crops of plantation-grown Kakadu Plum is ready for harvesting by an indigenous community south of Broome in Western Australia.

Mintel notes: “With China rumored to have requested hundreds of tonnes, at the moment the amount harvested from the whole north of Australia is not enough to supply the demand internationally if the superfood gains popularity.

“Manufacturers should look to explore opportunities to use the Kakadu Plum in food and drink applications as its supply escalates for potential global demand.

Mintel said its research highlights that consumers want more natural products and less artificial ingredients, making the Kakadu Plum an ideal fit, especially as a natural preservative for wild-caught and farmed seafood.

Last week FoodNavigator reported how a start-up firm has found a way of sustainably sourcing the African fruit baobab​ while supporting rural economies and empowering growers in a region that has been described as an untapped source of superfoods.

 

 

 

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