Blog icon

By  Julie Cumming 18 April 2024 3 min read

Key points

  • Australian start-up YFRESH is a jujube fruit cultivator focused on sustainable food production.
  • The CSIRO Kick-Start program helped YFRESH to analyse jujubes at various stages of ripeness.
  • Our Health and Biosecurity team discovered the nutrient values of fresh and dried jujubes, as well as the best time to harvest.

Dried jujubes are popular in many cultures for their taste and nutritional benefits. YFRESH, an Australian family-owned business, was mainly focused on cultivating fresh jujubes.

However, they discovered the potential of the dried variety thanks to a compositional analysis by our Health and Biosecurity team. The project was made possible through the CSIRO Kick-Start program, which provides funding, research expertise and support to innovative Australian start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Small but packs a nutritional punch

The jujube fruit, originally from China, resembles a small, reddish-green apple with smooth skin. It offers a burst of flavours ranging from sweet to tangy. Packed with potassium, vitamin C, and phenolic compounds, jujubes provide a health boost whether fresh or dried. With a unique taste and nutritional benefits, jujubes make a delicious addition to a balanced diet.

YFRESH Business Development Manager Bill Efrosinis (left) and Director Sandy Iosefellis (right).

Committed to sustainable development

Based in regional Riverland in South Australia, YFRESH are dedicated to sustainable food production and farm resilience. The company sees jujubes as a nutritious solution to addressing global food challenges. They believe natural resources offer a way to nourish communities worldwide.

In alignment with their vision, YFRESH took on some critical tasks to better understand the potential of this fruit. This included analysing the composition of Australian-grown jujubes compared to those grown in the Northern Hemisphere.

With this analysis, they plan to improve their products with a longer shelf life and more health benefits than jujubes from other regions.

Sandy Iosefellis is YFRESH's Director. She said they used research and development (R&D) to overcome a number of business challenges.

"We're all about growing nutrition, which means understanding the science behind our actions and [allowing that to] inform our direction," Sandy said.

"We've invested in scientific research and technology to learn more about the composition of our jujubes in our unique growing conditions.

"We had to figure out the best time to harvest our jujubes to ensure they're packed with the most nutrition. It's crucial for us to deliver fresh and shelf-stable products that support our consumers on their health journey," she said.

Fresh Australian jujube fruits in YFRESH's orchard.

CSIRO Kick-Start delivers fresh results

Through the CSIRO Kick-Start program, YFRESH teamed up with our Health and Biosecurity team.

The research was carried out at Analytical Laboratories - Nutrition and Health by our Adelaide Analytical team. They have unique pre-clinical and analytical capabilities – not to mention over 20 years of experience in analyses for various food and ingredient companies.

A compositional analysis of jujubes at various stages of ripeness – using three fresh jujube fruit and one freeze-dried sample – showed varying levels of nutrient composition.

Dr Cuong Tran is a Senior Research Scientist at Nutrition Interventions for Human Health. He said the compositional analysis of the jujube fruit established that ripeness does not affect the nutrient composition.

"However, the freeze-dried fruit product tested had higher dietary fibre levels than their fresh counterparts based on a per 100-gram weight basis," Cuong said.

"The total dietary fibre of fresh jujube was 3 g/100 g of fruit, whereas the freeze-dried fruit product contained 11 g/100 g of dried fruit."

Based on weight per 100 g, the freeze-dried fruit product had higher levels of protein, fat, and sugar than the fresh jujube fruit.

In addition, the fresh and freeze-dried jujube fruit tested had higher in-vitro antioxidant capacity compared to a broad range of fruits. These included apple, strawberry, and banana.


YFRESH's orchard of Australian jujube trees.

A redefined farming approach

Following the findings from the CSIRO Kick-Start project analysis, YFRESH is now diving into product development for value-added trials. These are set to kick off this year. They also trademarked in six countries, including Australia.

Bill Efrosinis, the Business Development Manager at YFRESH, emphasised the significance of their CSIRO Kick-Start project.

"The CSIRO Kick-Start project played a crucial role in ensuring that we're harnessing valuable natural resources to cultivate nutrition for consumers," Bill said.

"Now armed with knowledge about the nutrient values of our jujubes at different stages, we're redefining our farming approach, paving the way for new supply channels and business opportunities."

Sandy also noted the support received during YFRESH's R&D journey.

"We’ve felt incredibly supported by the CSIRO Kick-Start program and their teams as we embarked on our research and development journey," Sandy said.

"This support allowed us to establish strong relationships and trust with key individuals, enabling the R&D 101 conversations we needed in the development of the project scope and to interpret the results."

Need help with your R&D journey?

Our SME Connect team have helped start-ups and small and medium businesses realise their potential through research and development. They may be able to help you too.

Contact us

Find out how we can help you and your business. Get in touch using the form below and our experts will get in contact soon!

CSIRO will handle your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and our Privacy Policy.

First name must be filled in

Surname must be filled in

I am representing *

Please choose an option

Please provide a subject for the enquriy

0 / 100

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer

0 / 1900

You shouldn't be able to see this field. Please try again and leave the field blank.