Nelly Bassily | September 29, 2008
Some African baobab trees are believed to be thousands of years old. Its uses are well known to communities where it grows, but in Europe, baobab fruit was considered a “novel food” because it was not commonly consumed in Europe prior to 1997. Therefore, before baobab fruit could be introduced to European markets, an evaluation and approval process was required. PhytoTrade Africa, a southern African trade association, began to clear the legal pathway for baobab two years ago, and novel food approval for baobab was granted earlier this year.
Many European media carried news of baobab’s approval, calling it a “superfruit” because of its vitamin, mineral and anti-oxidant content, including high levels of Vitamin C and calcium. In its application for novel food approval, PhytoTrade Africa indicated that baobab pulp was well suited for use in health products such as bars and smoothies.
According to a report by the United Kingdom’s Natural Resources Institute, the maximum sustainable harvest of baobab could be just under one billion American dollars, or about 675,000,000 Euros. Senegal’s Baobab Fruit Company says that it has already received inquiries from European companies interested in sampling baobab pulp.
The following links provide more information on baobab and commentary on this news story:
-PhytoTrade Africa’s website (see information on baobab on front page and in the “news” and “our products” sections): http://www.phytotradeafrica.com/default.htm
-Baobab Fruit Company’s website: http://www.baobabfruitco.com/ENG/Contacts.html
-Video about baobab fruit harvesting and processing, made by the Baobab Fruit Company: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2ifnRpAcKk&feature=related
-“Baobab – Newest kid on the novel foods block,” on FoodNavigator.com: http://www.foodnavigator.com/Legislation/Baobab-newest-kid-on-the-novel-foods-block
-Article by the World Agroforestry Centre on conserving and domesticating trees: http://www.worldagroforestry.org/ar2003/downloads/2pager_Theme_TreesAndMarkets.pdf