London-based Abakus Foods is processing and exporting jujube fruit products to 10 countries and is bringing them to Casino supermarkets in France, according to Food Navigator. The sweet and chewy fruit, also called red dates or Chinese dates, is considered a superfood because it's loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients.
The jujube is included in traditional Chinese medicine practices to relieve anxiety and insomnia. The product has 20 times more vitamin C than citrus fruits, plus it has manganese, iron and 18 essential amino acids, Food Navigator noted.
Helen Wang, founder and CEO of Abakus Foods, said the company is experimenting with different forms of the fruit, which is sourced from China's Xinjiang region.
While Abakus Foods hasn't announced plans to make its jujube products available at U.S. retail outlets, products containing the fruit from other companies are currently sold online by Amazon.com.
Jujube is an adaptogen, or a plant with qualities that allow the human body to better adapt to stress. Another common example of an adaptogen is ginseng. Foods and beverages known to impart functional qualities are growing in popularity as consumers look to improve their health while also meeting their daily nutritional needs.
Millennials are driving the functional food and beverage trend as they seek out interesting and exotic new products and flavors. Baby boomers are also taking part since they're increasingly concerned about maintaining their health and handling ever-rising medical costs.
Jujubes could give dates some competition since they share similar qualities of being chewy, naturally sweet, adaptable, nutritionally gifted and good for a quick burst of energy. However, while 100 grams of the deglet noor date variety have about 2.5 grams of protein, that amount also contains 282 calories and 63 grams of sugar. In contrast, 100 grams of dried jujubes contain 3.7 grams of protein, 287 calories and no sugar.