Natural preservatives show record growth

The increasing popularity of natural and organic foods is boosting sales in natural preservatives such as rosemary as more food makers seek to remove synthetically produced ingredients from their products.

Rosemary traders such as French-based Naturex and Slovenia's Vitiva have reported strong sales growth for an ingredient traditionally used only in food preparation. But technological innovations have meant it can perform the function of a preservative, with research indicating it is particularly effective in meat preservation.

"Addition of 0.1 per cent dried rosemary to minced chicken thighs or breasts prior to high-pressure processing inhibits lipid oxidation during subsequent cooking and could form the basis for product development," wrote lead author Neura Bragagnolo in the journal Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies earlier this year.

Naturex notched 20 per cent growth to September over 2005 levels. Marketing manager Antoine Dauby said the company's StabilEnhance OSR extracts demonstrate biocide effects against many common germs including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. "It can be used in a broad range of applications including beverages, snacks and dairy products, in addition to meat and poultry," he noted. Other natural preservatives include sugar, honey, alcohol, vitamin E and glycerine.

Vitiva president Ohad Cohen said his company had recorded 250 per cent growth for rosemary extracts in the first quarter of 2006 compared to all of 2005.

Analyst Frost & Sullivan estimated in 2004 that the natural food-preservatives market was growing at 5-10 per cent per annum — depending on the ingredient — twice the rate of the regular preservatives market.

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