Defining the Alaska blueberry rush...

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2005


  Robin Richardson President of Global Food Collaborative explains opportunities for Peninsula berry ranching co-ops.

Robin Richardson President of Global Food Collaborative explains opportunities for Peninsula berry ranching co-ops.

Alaska's next economic gold rush may be blue as in berries, according to data provided at a recent informational meeting sponsored by the Kenai Peninsula Borough regarding the development of a wild berry, gathering/ranching cooperative. The event drew a couple dozen interested people to the Alaska Christian College for a presentation by representatives of Denali BioTechnologies L.L.C. and Robin Richardson, M.A., President of Global Food Collaborative.

According to Jack Brown, the Kenai Borough Marketing Development Manager, the concept could lead to numerous seasonal and annual jobs, economic opportunities, and create an environmentally-friendly industry year-round on the Kenai Peninsula. Recent studies show that Alaskan berries have greater interest than those baking pies or canning jellies due to their high concentration of peroxyl radicals and the demand for those elements in health supplements. Maureen McKenzie, Ph.D., a ten year Alaskan and CEO and founder of Denali BioTechnologies L.L.C. says that Alaska's extreme and inhospitable environment is responsible for these high concentrations, "Alaskan plants have had to learn to adapt making many biochemical substances that help them to survive and interestingly those same substances that help them survive are ones that help us to protect our health. So by virtue of this difficult environment Alaskan plants produce high concentrations of these health promoting molecules that dwarf the capabilities of cultivated plants at lower latitudes," said McKenzie.

McKenzie's company Denali BioTechnologies produces a dietary product called Aurora Blue, which is a supplement made primarily of a blend of high bush blueberries. The product is currently marketed over the internet. According to McKenzie it is estimated by biologists and government officials that Alaska produces some 40 million tons of berry biomass that grow in the State without cultivation. McKenzie says that the demand however is growing and that they are in desperate need of gatherers and people who are interested in ranching berries, "We are going to have to harness the resource that is out there without modifying its wonderful properties. The Peninsula is an excellent location close to some of the largest stands of intermediate and high bush berries that are of interest."

Robin Richardson, M.A., President of Global Food Collaborative, joined McKenzie in outlining the opportunities in the biotechnology and related food-based industries and its important advantages in economic development and sustainable business growth for Alaskans. The proposed Kenai Peninsula berry cooperative would include the installation of processing equipment for manufacturing the biomass health products in Alaska. For more information about the proposed Kenai Peninsula coop, contact Jack Brown, KPB Business Development Manager at 714-2334 or to learn more about Aurora Blue and Denali BioTechnologies go to

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