African fruit extract provides flavor, vitamin C

by Jeff Gelski
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MORRISTOWN, N.J. — P.L. Thomas now offers an extract from the African baobab tree that may be used as a flavor enhancer in beverages, smoothies, snacks, fruit fillings, desserts, cereals, nutrition bars and supplements. The extract from the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) comes with at least 150 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams and also is a source of B vitamins, calcium, amino acids and fiber.

Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) documents have been filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to Afriplex, Paarl, South Africa, which supplies baobab in partnership with PhytoTrade Africa. The European Commission has given baobab a novel food approval.

"The market for baobab fruit products is currently embryonic, and we’re at the start of a long process to develop this industry, both from a supply chain and technical perspective," said Cyril Lombard, market development manager for PhytoTrade, which has an office in London and an office in Cape Town, South Africa. PhytoTrade also is known as the Southern African Natural Products Trade Association. It seeks to develop an environmentally sustainable natural products industry.

The baobab also is known as the "upside-down tree" because of its root-like branch formulations, according to PhytoTrade. The tree’s fruit inside a shell contain seeds embedded in a white, powdery pulp that may be used in foods and beverages. The seeds yield an edible oil.

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