Fi: How did you get started in branded ingredients?
Ronald Martin: In order to get into the branded ingredients business you have to have something that has science behind it and a deliverable to the consumer. It has to have some health benefit to the consumer, and it has to be a good health benefit because once you brand it they’ll associate that brand with that health benefit and then it’ll be a deliverable. So therefore you have to have the deliverable first or you’ll never have a successful product.
Fi: What’s the difference between supporting a branded ingredient versus a simple commodity?
RM: You need to have at least one human clinical to start with and then a commitment to do a second human clinical to corroborate the first. And then you also have to have GRAS. You have to have those things in a strategy to go forward. Then try to create a brand that associates with the health benefit and make it so the consumer can recognize it. For example, we did Polyphenolics and we did a grapeseed extract that reduced blood pressure. We made a brand that had a big “M” on it—a white “M” in a red box—and underneath it said “MegaNatural” and then it had a hyphen and said “BP”—as in blood pressure. So that’s what we did recognizing the brand.
Way back when, I did NutraSweet brand of aspartame and we had “NutraSweet” in a box and we had a circle that looked like a red and white mint so that the consumer could see it clearly and associate the image with the function and health benefit of the product.
Fi: What kind of challenges do you face when taking your branded ingredient to the next level?
RM: Once you have two human clinicals you can usually get into the large supplement companies, but then if you want to get into Pharma they want three, five, six or seven studies. If you want to get into food or beverage they want the same thing—a number of clinical studies that really support the science before they’re going to put their name behind an ingredient that is delivering something to the consumer. They won’t accept just two studies.