Future trends

The use of these extracts, however, presents some additional concerns. The first one is the market. Before producing these phytochemical extracts from agri-food residues it is essential to evaluate the potential market and price for these products.

In addition it is necessary to control the content of the bioactive phytochemicals in the extracts by appropriate analytical methods. It is not unusual to find pills, extracts and other preparations on the market that are based on specific bioactive compounds but in fact only contain trace amounts of these bioactive phytochemicals. This is the case of many grape extract preparations that claim a significant content of resveratrol, when the real content is very small or is even undetectable. It is necessary to give figures for the content of the main bioactive components on the product label (functional food or nutraceutical).

The biological activity of these phytochemical extracts needs to be demonstrated by in vivo studies and clinical assays; the bioavailability of many phytochemicals is rather low and in many cases the natural compounds are transformed into other metabolites by the gut microflora, and these metabolites, but not the original phytochemicals, are then absorbed and circulate in plasma to reach the target tissues where the biological action takes place.

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