Food tech company Pairwise has teamed up with berry breeder Plant Sciences Inc (PSI) to bring new varieties of black raspberries, red raspberries and blackberries to the US market.
Pairwise will use its unique gene editing capabilities, and access to critically important germplasm provided by PSI, to improve taste and convenience, as well as increase shelf-life and off-season availability of berries.
This collaboration builds on a unique public/private partnership the two companies have built with the US Department of and several leading academic institutions to identify diverse, novel types of berries that are not broadly bred for commercial sale today.
“At Pairwise, we want to make healthy eating easier,” said Pairwise CEO Tom Adams.
“Now, more than ever, people are focused on their food options and looking for ways to make healthy choices at home. Through the collaboration with PSI, we are moving from science partnerships to product partnerships that will bring new berries to market.”
For example, black raspberries today have a limited growing season and are not widely available to US consumers.
These berries, which naturally have five times more antioxidants than blueberries, could be made broadly available with breeding updates that expand growing seasons enabling year-round production.
“Building on decades of successful berry breeding experience, we will work with Pairwise to identify and advance innovation that will benefit the berry landscape,” said PSI’s chief executive officer Steve Nelson.
“This partnership will afford us the opportunity to bring to consumers novel and natural superfoods that were previously out of reach.”
As part of the collaboration, PSI will use its commercial nurseries to grow plantlets for these new improved varieties. Pairwise and PSI will ultimately license farmers to plant, grow and produce these new types of berries.
“Berries are one of the fastest growing produce categories in the US, but this is largely concentrated on just a few varieties. Imagine having dozens of new berry varieties that offer more choice and flavor in healthy food options,” said Pairwise chief business officer Haven Baker.
“By combining Pairwise’s gene editing capabilities and PSI’s germplasm and industry expertise, we will bring better, more sustainable berries to consumers across the country.”
Teams have already begun working together and will be establishing timelines for each product’s development and availability. Initial berries are expected to be available in the next few years.
According to Mintel’s GNPD, only about 3 per cent of new foods introduced in US markets each year are fruits and vegetables.
However, in caneberries alone, teams have evaluated hundreds of varieties available in nature, but not grown or bred for consumer use. In fact, gene editing enables breeding experts and growers to bring to market new varieties within years, rather than decades.