On October 7, 2023, the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China (NHC) issued Notice No.8 of 2023, officially approving tiger nut as a new food raw material. The notice does not specify any restrictions on its consumption level and usage scope. Details are as follows:
Source: Cyperus esculentus L. var. sativus Boeck.
Edible part: stem tubers
Food safety indicators shall comply with the current national food safety standard for nuts and seeds.
Source: NHC Notice No.8 of 2023
1.Embarking on Modernization: Tiger Nut, a Novel and Distinctive Oil Crop, Charts Its Path
Tiger nut, with its rich nutrition and sweet taste, boasts a long history of safe consumption abroad. Chinese scholars introduced it into China as early as the 1950s, yet it faced some challenges adapting to the local conditions, resulting in relatively low public awareness.
The development of the tiger nut industry crucially relies on regulatory impetus. In a collaborative effort, CIRS Group, in conjunction with the Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, successfully concluded the regulatory approval process for tiger nut, including the application, acceptance and the release of the official notice, within a span of one year. It plays a pivotal role in overcoming critical policy obstacles, officially setting it on the path to “modernization” as a new food raw material. The review process and key timelines are as follows:
Step 1: NHC received the application dossiers and issued the acceptance notice
Step 2: Passed the technical review and issued for public comments by CFSA
Step 3: NHC issued the approval notice
Before submitting relevant dossiers, we made a thorough preparation, compiling comprehensive documentation regarding the distinctive features, socioeconomic value, consumption safety, and nutritional attributes of tiger nut. The entire process, from project initiation, conducting all required tests for application, engaging with relevant agencies for safety assessments, to the final submission and acceptance, unfolded within a concise 11-month time frame.
2.Tiger Nut: A Treasure Trove of Benefits, Holds Promising Prospects in the Future
Tiger Nut is rich in various nutritional components such as fats, amino acids, starch, dietary fiber, sterols, and vitamins and minerals. It boasts certain health benefits, including blood pressure and cholesterol regulation, along with antioxidant properties. This versatile crop holds high value and it serves as an economic plant with integrated applications in oil, grain, and feed. According to the 2021 Investigation Report on China’s Tiger Nut Market and Industry, nearly 50% of harvested tiger nuts in China are used for oil extraction.
Beyond its use as an oilseed, tiger nut has found its way into various culinary applications. Both domestic and international companies have ventured into producing a range of tiger nut-related products. Its approval opens up opportunities across a broad spectrum of end-products, as illustrated in the figure below, showcasing its widespread potential.
Key events in the industrial development of tiger nuts in China
The tiger nut industry has been included in the national “13th Five-Year Plan” development program and various major projects by the Ministry of Science and Technology. China has also issued a series of announcements or documents to support its development. Key events are as follows:
- In 2012, tiger nuts were certified as organic products (Notice No.2 of 2012 by the Ministry of Agriculture and National Certification and Accreditation Administration);
- In November 2015 and June 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture issued the Guiding Opinions on the Structural Adjustment of Maize in the Sickle Bay Area and the National Plan for the Structural Adjustment of Planting Industry (2016-2020), respectively. Tiger nuts were included in the recommended list of new oilseed crops for pilot planting and promotion in suitable areas to adjust planting structures and addd new sources of edible oil;
- In 2019, the Ministry of Science and Technology deployed a technological innovation task for tiger nuts in the National Key Research and Development Program;
- At the end of December 2021, in the newly released 14th Five-Year Plan for National Planting Development by the Ministry of Agriculture, tiger nuts were jointly listed as a characteristic oilseed crop along with sesame, sunflower, and others;
- On November 4, 2022, in the public reply to the 4156th proposal of the Fifth Session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress by the State Administration for Market Regulation, it was emphasized that tiger nut oil is included in the category of edible oils, fats, and their products for licensing, with specific varieties falling under the “other” category. Tiger nuts can be applied as a new food material;
- On October 7, 2023, NHC issued Notice No.8 of 2023, officially approving tiger nut as a new food raw material.
Advancements in breeding technologies elevate China's local tiger nuts industry
In addition to collaborating with CIRS Group to promote the market access of tiger nuts, Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, relying on national key research and development programs, major scientific and technological projects in Henan Province, conducts the breeding, demonstration, and promotion projects of tiger nuts. The “Yu You Sha” varieties have seen an increased yield from 400 kg to over 800 kg per mu, and the oil content has increased from 20% to over 25%. Specialized technology and equipment for tiger nuts oil extraction have been developed, achieving a technological breakthrough in the tiger nut industry chain and playing a crucial role in promoting the rapid industrial development.
3. CIRS Opinion
The expedited approval of tiger nuts as a new food raw material is a result of not only the collaborative efforts between CIRS Group and the applicant, but also a profound understanding of regulatory requirements and thorough preparation from each technical team. The swift market entry of tiger nuts, backed by a robust compliance status, holds substantial promise. The favorable trends in industry scale and development signals enduring growth, indicating significant application potential.
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