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Sunday, April 6, 2008

An newly developed Chinese fruit with amazing properties - luo han - a sugar substitute...






A Hamilton, New Zealand, company that extracts a zero-kilojule sweetener from a fruit grown in southern China is aiming for revenue of up to $1oo million in a few years it has been claimed.

Bio Vittoria's PureLo, a non calorific sweetner is extracted from luo han, which is used in sachet sweeteners, smoothies, yoghurts, powdered dietary supplements and cereals, and is now gaining traction in the global food and drink sector.

The company, 'Bio Vittoria', was reportedly founded by former HortResearch scientist, Garth Smith, who played a key role in the development of the kiwifruit industry, and American nutraceuticals marketer, Stephen LeFebvre.

A Chinese colleague of Dr Smith introduced him to luo han - a small pulpy fruit known in China for its sweetness and medicinal properties. Then Dr Smith developed a method to extract a powder which has no calories and is 300 times as sweet as sugar.

Most of the luo han crop is currently grown by the Miao and Yao hill tribes in mountainous areas of Guangxi province. Lu han is reportedly protected under World Trade Organisation rules, so it may not be grown outside a few areas in southern China.

They obviously do not want to lose control of another native Chinese plant and fruit, remembering how decades ago New Zealand horticulturalists and scientists developed a small Chinese berry sized fruit into one the size of stone fruits such as apricots. It was then grown and marketed from New Zealand as the iconic Kiwifruit.

The BioVittoria company is now 60% owned by its founders and other minority shareholders in the US and New Zealand. They are looking for world markets to continue developing and marketing this potentially amazing product.

Read history here

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