Few ingredients suppliers can claim their product has received health claims approval from America's Food & Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – but that's exactly the prized position Sweden-based Biovelop finds itself in. The company has just launched PromOat – a beta glucan extracted from oats – and is braced for what it believes will be a deluge of interest from the functional-food and beverage sector.
The reason for this optimism is that PromOat is well placed to exploit the fact that the authorities in both the U.S. and Europe have approved health claims linking beta glucans with cholesterol reduction. David Peters, Biovelop's business development manager, said that obtaining such approval is now vital for any company wishing to market a functional ingredient successfully.
"One of the key themes to have come out of the shows we've done recently – Supply Side West in Las Vegas and Health Ingredients Europe in Madrid – is that it's important to have a concrete health claim behind you now, particularly in the light of EFSA's reluctance to give out health claims. As a result, we're seeing a lot of interest in cholesterol reduction."
PromOat, of course, is not the only beta glucan on the market. Nor is it the only beta glucan ingredient derived from oats. However, Peters said it is set apart from the competition because it is produced using a completely natural process – a patented procedure that separates the beta glucan from the oat without the use of chemicals. Rival products typically use ethanol to perform this action, said Peters.
This method offers two advantages, Peters explained. First, it taps into still-increasing consumer demand for all-natural products. "This is especially true in the U.S.," he said, "where people want a return to raw and natural ingredients, and to cut down the number of ingredients."
Second, the process enables Biovelop to separate out the soluble fiber part of the oat – which is PromOat – leaving behind the insoluble fiber and the protein parts. "This means PromOat is colorless and tasteless," said Peters. "That is hugely important for food and drink manufacturers because it means they've got a white powder without any taste which they can very easily incorporate into a whole range of different products."
Peters believes PromOat can inject some excitement into the cholesterol-reducing food and beverage category by presenting something innovative in a market that is currently dominated by well-established (and also clinically proven) plant sterol and stanol ingredients.
"I would argue that PromOat has a clear advantage precisely because it is a newer, fresher ingredient which food and drink manufacturers can introduce into their products to drive growth," he said.
Peters revealed that Biovelop has already signed a number of contracts with food and beverage manufacturers who wish to launch products containing PromOat. The first to market will be a cholesterol-lowering fruit juice sold under a private label by one of the major UK supermarket chains.
PromOat can be incorporated into pretty much any food or beverage application, said Peters, and can even be used to replace fat.