An Analysis of the Composition, Health Benefits, and Future Market Potential of the Jerusalem Artichoke in Canada
- Adil Munim
- Michel Rod
- Hamed Tavakoli
- Farah Hosseinian
This article presents an overview of the Jerusalem artichoke and its potential uses in consumer food products. Jerusalem artichoke, native to North America, is characterized by its sunflower-like appearance and carbohydrate-rich tubers. For centuries, Jerusalem artichoke tubers were a food source for Aboriginal Canadians and early European settlers. Today, Jerusalem artichoke is used to obtain inulin for addition into food products. Inulin is a polysaccharide that provides several health benefits when consumed. Due to its unique structure of fructose and glucose molecules, inulin is indigestible by the human digestive system. Its benefits are realized when it enters the large intestine and is fermented by microorganisms. This process stimulates prebiotic and dietary fibre effects that improve the growth of beneficial bacteria and promote greater digestive health. Additionally, inulin can act as a sugar or fat substitute in foods, and even facilitates the absorption of minerals in the large intestine. Currently, the use of Jerusalem artichoke inulin in commercial food products is limited. However, trends focusing on healthy living and supporting local industry indicate that Canadian consumers will positively view products made with Canadian-grown Jerusalem artichoke. The advantage that Jerusalem artichoke has over other inulin-rich products is that it can grow on poor land and is also more resistant to extreme weather conditions relative to corn and/or sugar beet; this is significant in the Canadian context. Given these trends and supplementary market data, the potential market size for Jerusalem artichoke-enriched products has been determined. Additionally, prices of currently available inulin-enriched products have been used as guidelines to determine total market potential. Market potential for baked goods, particularly muffins, was found to be $CAD 8,721,788 while market potential for beverages, namely soda, was found to be $CAD 11,707,098. These numbers, though imperfect, indicate that there is strong potential for Jerusalem artichoke-enriched products to be marketed to Canadian consumers.
- Bella DongEditorial Assistant