Weighty issues to consider

Peter SofroniouHere at Functional Ingredients, our mission is to make broad connections within each issue to help product development teams — from marketers to formulators to ingredients buyers, as well as executives — understand the many factors (some of them antithetical to one another!) that are required to launch successful functional and nutraceutical products.

Weight management remains the top health concern of all those following a Western diet, which has led to the well-documented ballooning of waistlines from the West Coast of the US to Western Europe. With ephedra gone and supplements companies scrambling to supply the Next Big Thing, food companies have helped fill the void following the principle that low-carb/high-protein diets did have something effective going for them. So while the low-carb boom may have burst, high-protein foods and beverages continue to have market success. Many so-called satiety-inducing products are predicated on protein inclusion. Our Science Review this month covers many facets of working with protein to formulate the best-tasting, most effective products for those looking for dietary measures (as opposed to dietary supplements) to help in the battle of the bulge.

Business Strategies on weight management looks at some of the ways companies are approaching this issue, with overweight and obesity affecting 50 per cent of Europeans and 62 per cent of Americans. Industry experts predict weight management will be the most significant food trend in coming years, with a particular focus on satiety, as more products are launched containing a host of satiety-promoting protein derivatives such as lactoferrin, whey, colostrum, casein and others.

Energy beverages have taken a significant bite out of carbonated drinks' market share. Most of these drinks have at their core some caffeine boost, which increases metabolic activity and, in theory, helps consumers shed pounds. The problem with these caffeine drinks is their bitter taste profile. From straight-up caffeine to green tea to nutraceutical functional bioactive ingredients, making bitter better is a chief goal of product formulators. Our Formulations piece this month helps product developers connect the dots in producing products that are not only efficacious but also — the holy grail — taste great.

As a publication devoted to the supply of ingredients, Functional Ingredients' big news this month is more price hikes. (See news story.) Only a year ago some prices were being driven down by oversupply and cheap Chinese products, but it seems those days are over. As China comes under intense pressure to improve its safety, traceability and quality-control procedures, we're all going to pay the price in increased ingredients costs, which are likely to find their way right through the supply chain. Factor in possible user fees and strict food-safety legislation next year, and the sky's the limit for food prices. As Loren Israelsen said at the recent Healthy Foods Conference, "Food will never again be as cheap as it is today."

Food for thought, indeed.

Peter Sofroniou
Editorial Director
[email protected]

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