Apr 15, 2020
Pairwise, Plant Sciences to bring new varieties of berries to US

Durham, North Carolina-based Pairwise, a food tech company, and Plant Sciences Inc., a breeder and agricultural research company, announced April 15 a collaboration to offer new types of berries for people looking for variety in their produce choices. 

According to a news release, teams will focus on black and red raspberries, as well as blackberries. 

“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 Plant Sciences Inc. (PSI), we are moving from science partnerships to product partnerships that will bring new berries to 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 Pairwise and PSI previously established with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and several leading academic institutions to identify diverse, novel types of berries that are not broadly bred for commercial sale today.

For example, black raspberries today have a limited growing season and are not widely available to American 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 their 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 United States, 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 three percent of new foods introduced in U.S. 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 mere years, as compared to decades, if achievable at all. 

Pairwise is working to develop new  varieties of crops, and to partner with food and agriculture companies who seek to put nutritious food on tables across North America. From developing novel genome editing tools to leveraging the natural genetic diversity of plants to creating robust partnerships and collaborations, Pairwise is addressing the biggest challenges facing the future of food. For more information, visit www.pairwise.com

Committed to “Advancing Agriculture through Science,” PSI has emerged as a premier agricultural research company with emphasis on plant breeding and propagation of berry crops for the global marketplace.

PSI and its affiliates hold more than 50 plant patents and plant breeder’s rights certificates for strawberry and raspberry, and supply plants of its proprietary varieties to leading growers in over 50 countries.

PSI is also aggressively preparing for its first commercial releases of blackberry and blueberry varieties. PSI believes the most competitive berry varieties are those that provide an effective defense against the most pressing agronomic threats, while prioritizing buyer and consumer expectations for flavor, appearance, and post-harvest performance. Please visit PSI’s website at www.plantsciences.com

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