The official launch of the seal "Chia Produite en France" takes place at the “Cité Universitaire” in Paris on June 27th. The event is to create awareness that just 10 grams of chia seeds per day provide 100 percent of the nutritional needs of Omega 3 our bodies require. Only 5 grams of chia cover the average Omega 3 daily deficiency present in the Western Hemisphere.
The event is open to chia producers, food processors, health professionals, scientists and other parties interested in learning and sharing the benefits of chia and the links between Omega 3 and, our overall health.
The seal “Chia de France” aims to be included in the packaging of all products that contain Chia ORURO®, and in restaurant menus that will suggest dishes that include 10 or 5 grams of the tiny superfood.
Chia, has been known and grown in Mexico and Central America since pre-colonial times. Out of the market for 500 years, the historical cultivation of chia seed has been done in tropical and subtropical regions. It was introduced to South America around two decades ago, and later to Australia.
Chia ORURO® is a variety for template climates developed by AGROFUN, the sister firm of French agro-enterprise PANAM Sememces, experts in seed selection. PANAM started a breeding program for chia ten years ago and obtained protection in EU (CPOV) and authorization for its placing in the EU market in February 2016.
On February 1st this year, AGROFUN, the Regional Government in Villemur, South of France, and several other stakeholders from the private and public sector embarked in a three-year project to research and develop the supply chain of chia from France.
This regional project aims to know better chia ORURO® its production in France, the different by-products and uses, and the benefits this new crop can bring to the farmers and end consumers. “PANAM has made the selection of the variety, and will continue to improve it and establish different technical and storage processes,” said Frederic Poujaud, general manager of AGROFUN and co-founder of PANAM. “LCA Laboratory is conducting fundamental research on the chia ORURO® composition, amount of lipids, Omega 3 and its physical properties, while Coreva technology is studying the way to optimize the oil extraction from the seeds, and Emeraude Lab is working on mixes and product development for cosmetics.”
There are also research projects to study the effect of chia in cardiovascular disease and neurological health issues.
“We also have a Chef from the South of France who is working with us. He is working on recipes with 10g of chia seeds, that would bring to the consumers the recommended daily Omega 3 intake.” Around 100 farmers are now growing chia ORURO® in over 200 Ha in France, 75 percent in organic certified soil. The chia was planted in May and should be ready for harvest in September. So far, the climate has been appropriate for chia, with a good amount of sun and rain, according to Mr. Poujaud.
Mathilde Hériteau, from grains trader Biograins is testing chia ORURO® with 4 farmers, growing 12 Ha of organic chia.
Biograins has been importing organic chia from South America for several years. It also has already been producing quinoa, a superfood from the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru.
“We heard about chia produced in France and thought it would be interesting to learn about the project. It seems logical to produce where the consumption takes place.” And France is currently one of the main consumers of chia. “When you produce organically, it is because you care about the environment.” Producing chia in France for European consumers will reduce the field-to-shelf carbon footprint. “Chia ORURO® represents a guarantee of price stability and reduced delivery times to supply a stable and homogeneous product, meeting a precise specification and with European consumption authorizations,” said Mr. Poujaud.
Chia seed offers the most concentrated Omega-3 plant source known. Europeans have significant deficiencies of this essential fatty acid, with daily consumption less than 1 g instead of 2 to 3 g that is the recommended dose.
The Omega-3s are integrated into the neuronal membrane and contribute to the efficient transfer of neurotransmitters. Deficiencies in Omega-3s are therefore particularly serious, for mothers and their babies, during the prenatal period as well as for young people that are still growing.
In adulthood, this deficiency may result in chronic neurological issues, behavioral problems, and depression; after the age of 60, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer or Parkinson may progress significantly.
In a booming market, in 2016 Europe concentrated a quarter of the current chia demand (20 000 tones per year according to FAO).