02/01/05 — Duplin company selling dietary supplement

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Duplin company selling dietary supplement

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 1, 2005 1:59 PM

WARSAW -- Six grape growers from across the state have joined to open a new industry in the Business Technology Center here.

The company, Nutragon, LLC, converts the hulls of grapes to a dietary supplement that is being sold over the Internet.

One of the investors, Bob Dalton, said the businessmen all knew David Fussell, who owns the Duplin Winery, and Dr. Willard Hinnant, who owns a winery in Pine Level. They have been buying grape hulls from the two wineries and studying them for several years.

The six men came together one summer day, watching beetles chew on their vines. The beetles had bypassed Fussell's and Hinnant's muscadine vines and the men wondered what it was that made the plants resistant to the pests.

They discovered that the hulls of the grape hulls have more than 200 chemical compounds in them, including the antioxidant resveratrol and ellagic acid, which some companies promote for its cancer-cell killing properties.

"This is the material we've been missing all these years when you were in school, and people said, 'Don't peel that apple. That's where the nutrients are,'" said Dalton, who used his engineering background to modify scavenged machinery that would separate the hulls from stems and vines and a dryer that would dry out the grape hulls with very limited heat.

The equipment takes the grape hulls from 80 percent moisture to 8 percent moisture without disturbing tahe nutrients inside the hull.

About 80 of their friends tried taking the powdered result for about 18 months.

The positive results led the company to start selling it over the Internet.

The investors are all equal partners, with no president or vice president. They have placed the powder in foil lined packets and are selling it on the Internet. The company's web site contains the information from the scientific studies and nutritional information about the product.

The powder, called "Muscadine Plus," is available through the web site in 2-gram packets. For more information, people can go to http://www.NutragonLLC.com.