Suntava is currently developing applications for purple corn rich in antioxidants.
By the admission of Suntava’s CEO, five years ago they were unknown, but now they have a whole plant kingdom built around them. The purple corn of Suntava is the result of years-long cross-breeding across hemispheres, from the latest strain of maize originated in Peru more than a thousand years.
It is loaded with antioxidants (anthocyanins) and the purple corn is known to have twice the antioxidants of blueberries as well as the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of all white corn varieties. What gives this purple corn its nutritional value is its pigment, which is also responsible for the corn’s purple color. Believe it or not, the same pigment is slowly making its way into snacks, products, supplements, hair colors and so many more places.
The CEO of Suntava, Bill Petrich, said that he never knew that they would ever reach this height thanks to the purple corn.
Many potential applications
Since the company’s launch back in 2007 growth has been akin to the popping corm. According to Petrich, the main challenge now is managing the growth and deciding what opportunities will provide the right direction for them to move.
However he soon realized he had something unique when he learned from the breeders of the antioxidants and natural pigment present in the purple corn. This was the moment that Petrich saw the amazing opportunity. The idea itself of a natural dye was intriguing especially since a Southampton Study in the 2007 linked artificial colors to hyperactivity. This was his moment.
The first debuted ingredient from the company was a natural red dye which was extracted from the purple corn through a water-only process. However the entire plant contains valuable free-radical fighting antioxidants, fiber, oils and proteins and that is the reason why different manufacturers and industries are calling Suntava to explore different applications.
Petrich said that soon after producing the natural dye, they started looking at the grain market to make some use of the kernels. This is how they got the idea for using kernels for corn meal, flour, snack meals and grits. He also stated that they’ll be moving into the supplement market with almost 10 ingredients to supply.
Suntava collaborates with other companies for every application of the original products. They provide the Purple Corn along with marketing support to help manufacturers get started.
Non-GMO Project verified
Although traditional purple corn has always been non-GMO, the manufacturers wanted to be sure. They asked Suntava to be verified so they decided to go for it. The kernels received their verification back in 2013 and all their milled products are in process.
They now how 6-12 purple corn growers in the Midwest, and their number is still rising according to Petrich. They collaborate with growers from Pennsylvania, California and Canada to test how their corn does in different regions and climates.
According to Petrich, the verification process was challenging but worth it. They had a fortunate timing because the other companies were just then on a hunt for innovative and nutritious ingredients and their purple corn was just what they were looking for.
According to recent scientific research on the antioxidants found in purple corn, it has been shown that they can have some strong anti-inflammatory as well as obesity, diabetes and heart disease preventive properties as well as prevent cancer (since they’re eliminating free radicals). The three powerful anthocyanin antioxidants that the Suntava Purple Corn contains are:
- Cyanidin-3-Glucoside (C3G)
And last but not least, on a retail level the Suntava Purple Corn can be found in Rhythm Super-foods, Mystic Harvest corn chips, General Mills as well as Udi’s bread and Berry Vanilla Puffs.