About Beneforte

Beneforte broccoli was developed at the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research, two institutes on the Norwich Research Park. From identifying a high-glucoraphanin broccoli relative in the 1980s, it has taken many years of plant breeding, field trials and studies into potential health benefits to deliver Beneforté broccoli to your supermarket shelves.

This long term publicly-funded scientific research is supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), a public body that invests in world-class bioscience to generate new knowledge, products, services and to inform policy. BBSRC actively supports the researchers it invests in to deliver impact from their work to promote economic growth and wellbeing in the UK and beyond.

Timeline

Date Event  
1984

Wild brassica seeds from Southern Italy & Sicily deposited in seed banks.

Wild brassica plants
Seed banks are vital for preserving biodiversity for future generations
1990

Wild brassicas analysed for glucosinolate content.

A high glucoraphanin wild brassica is crossed with cultivated broccoli.


A standard broccoli plant and Brassica villosa, a wild Brassica variety
1995

Breeding programme started at the John Innes Centre.


Crossing involves taking pollen from one plant and placing it on the flowers of another.
1996 - 1999

Repeated rounds of crossing are needed to keep the high glucoraphanin genes but remove other genes from the wild brassica plant.


Broccoli plots at the John Innes Centre, 1999
2000 - 2009

Intensive commercial breeding taken on by leading vegetable seed company Seminis.

Commercial breeding ensures varieties match consumer demand for shape & taste, as well as grower’s needs for high yield and growing in season.

The resulting high glucoraphanin broccoli variety that became Beneforté looks identical to ordinary broccoli.

2001 - 2011

Field trials of the high glucoraphanin broccoli at different sites around the world.

Field trials are needed to show the broccoli performs as well as current varieties, and that the high glucoraphanin levels are reproduced reliably wherever it is grown.

Field plots of broccoli growing in Spain, 2010.

2002 - present

First human studies on potential health benefits of high glucoraphanin broccoli start.

The Institute of Food Research is carrying out ongoing studies using human volunteers to assess the health benefits of glucoraphanin.


IFR researchers receive delivery of frozen high glucoraphanin broccoli for use in human trials, 2010.
2011

High glucoraphanin broccoli launched in UK under the name Beneforté.

Beneforté broccoli is currently on sale in Marks and Spencer and Asda.


Beneforté broccoli being grown in Lincolnshire for supply to UK supermarkets.