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Fred Searle

BY FRED SEARLE

California Prunes expecting surge in demand

Sales of the dried fruit set for potential boost after Dutch scientists find possible link between Vitamin K deficiency and coronavirus deaths

California Prunes expecting surge in demand

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The California Prune is expecting a surge in demand for its dried fruit following the news in early June that some of the worst cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands have been found in people with a Vitamin K deficiency.

The vitamin – which is found in prunes as well as other foods such as spinach, eggs and hard and blue cheeses – could help fight the disease according to researchers in the Netherlands who studied patients admitted to the Canisius Wilhelmina hospital in the Dutch city of Nijmegen.

Covid-19 can cause blood clotting and lead to the breakdown of tissue fibres in the lungs. Vitamin K, which is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, plays a part in the production of proteins that regulate clotting.

In light of the initial findings, the researchers remain cautious but are looking for funding to carry out a clinical trial. They have, however, encouraged people to get a healthy intake of Vitamin K unless they are on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.

Represented by the California Prune Board (CPB), prune growers and packers in the American state have already seen an increase in demand this year, with shoppers stocking up on prunes, which are versatile and have a long storage life. They can be used as both a cooking ingredient and a snack and can be kept stored in the cupboard for up to a year. 

The CPB reported that California-origin prune exports to the UK have jumped up 10 per cent compared to 2019, while exports to Germany have grown seven per cent, and the Polish market has seen a massive rise of 87 per cent. 

Japanese consumers are also stocking up on the dried fruit, with exports rising by 14 per cent. Now, following the news highlighting the renewed importance of Vitamin K, the California Prune industry said it was expecting exports around the world to rise further. 

Kevin Verbruggen, CPB’s European marketing director, said: “We note from the study findings that vitamin K2 is not a treatment for Covid-19, though illustrates that a poor Vitamin K status is linked to a poor prognosis. 

“We look forward to further developments in this exciting area. In the meantime, California Prunes are a tasty and easy way to increase our intake of vitamin K, as well as nutrients like vitamin B6 and copper, which can help to keep our immune systems in good working order.”

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