Bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food

Bioscience for renewable resources and clean growth

Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health

Category: CASE Studentships

Kent Cherries – unlocking a powerhouse of goodness to promote metabolic health and longevity

Project No. 2369


Primary Supervisor

Dr Jenny Tullet – University of Kent


Dr Marina Ezcurra – University of Kent

Mr Michael Dallaway – Rent a Cherry Tree (CASE Partner)



Our laboratory is working with Rent a Cherry Tree, a business that makes a tasty and nutritious juice from waste cherries, rich in natural chemicals called anthocyanins. We are working to understand the science of their product and its health impact at a molecular and physiological level. This knowledge will be used to improve and target their marketing, scale up the business, develop new products and define a unique market niche of ‘upcycled’ health foods.

Our project maximises agricultural outputs and reduces waste to make foods with health benefits. 135,000 tonnes/year of agricultural waste are generated in the UK, contributing to carbon emissions, and reducing agricultural output and sustainability. Kent produces 4000 tonnes/year of cherries. Kent cherries are sold as Class I fresh fruit, but cherries of lower standards (bruising/colour changes) are not sold and hauled to landfill, generating 60 tonnes of waste/year. These “waste” cherries are a high-value nutritious food. This approach innovates and increases food productivity, reduces waste, benefits farmers and promotes sustainability.

Cherry anthocyanins are important bioactive molecules and have been linked to reduced rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity and neurodegeneration. They also act as prebiotics and promote beneficial gut microbe growth. They are used globally for the treatment of these diseases. Here, we will test whether Kent anthocyanins are just as helpful!

This project will analyse Kent cherry anthocyanins. The student will quantify anthocyanins in the sustainably made juice and pomace and determine their bioactivity/prebiotic properties using ethical and sustainable approaches i.e. testing their impact on prebiotic bacterial growth and testing their health and lifespan affects in C. elegans. This scientific product analysis will be used to increase productivity and sustainability, reduce waste, grow the bioeconomy and promote health.