By Len Monheit
And so June begins. With that we approach the mid-point of 2008, and as we gather in New Orleans at IFT, we will actually reach that milestone.
Along the way, in the supplements world, the first deadline for US GMP compliance will pass, a date affecting some handful of super-large (by industry standards) organizations, and several key contract manufacturers who manufacture for them. Contract service providers, who might not have had to comply by size themselves, have had downstream value chain pressure applied to them by key clients. By itself, I would expect this day to pass without significant fanfare, but its passing brings much closer GMP compliance for the bulk of the supplements industry labeled as ‘mid-size’. The lessons learned by early adapters presumably will be transferred. Similarly, all mid-size organizations have been feverishly working since promulgation of the rule, recognizing new demands and obligations, many of which, they too, have passed as value chain pressure to suppliers and contract service providers.
Let’s dial back from the world of supplements and consider for a moment the world of functional ingredients. New product introductions have been relatively few and far between and certainly with a couple possible exceptions (like Cargill’s Truvia™ possibly) with limited overwhelming fanfare. In many cases, we’ve seen program expansion, further investment in selected research, corporate repositioning and infrastructure investment (Sabinsa, Embria) and in the maturing categories such as omega-3s, relationship enhancement as well as second and third product launches in many categories or brand programs.
Does this mean we’re looking at a relatively dormant marketplace?
Not by a longshot. Strategies for weight management, sweeteners, carb metabolism, innovative but healthy flavor systems etc continue to evolve. Several companies continue to build out their research and scientific programs. Many continue to enhance their understanding of product behavior, both from a product development standpoint, but also from an analytical/QC point of view. And a couple of background trends may prove interesting…..
As transparency in supply continues to develop, the global nature of the value chain has become more obvious. International trading partners are either anteing up with appropriate quality and commitment to sustainable, secure raw material supply, or, for those that can’t comply, unprecedented desperation to secure or maintain a toehold in the marketplace. This is leading to ‘too good to be true’ bargains’ on the one hand, or a movement towards ‘fair market value’ on the other.
So what else is new?
India on the move…..
Scanning and analyzing the past few week’s news it is obvious that India is making a move. Whether we’re speaking about Sabinsa or Avesthagen, these companies are committed to the marketplace long-term, have and continue to develop research-supported infrastructure, recognize emerging markets transcending supplements, foods and nutricosmetics and are exhibiting patience in developing and enhancing their value chain relationships. It’s even more interesting to note that our most recent India-based press release also touches on two other emerging angles – organics and potentially, a new superfruit candidate. (http://www.npicenter.com/anm/temp lates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=21337&zoneid=9)
The Organic Angle
As Avesthagen introduces an organic Amla-based ingredient, we note another press release from last week, this time from ingredient distributor E.T. Horn, indicating that the company had secured a source for new organic food ingredients. (http://www.npicenter.com/anm/temp lates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=21338&zoneid=9). As many press release critics will immediately point out, organic ingredients have been around and a topic for some time now, so this is not news at all, but the fact that companies, on an increasing basis, are touting their organic supply capabilities, in all three application areas (supplement, food and nutricosmetic) means that these markets are ripe for organic supply, at least enough to justify the marketing and communication push that companies will spend behind them. Getting an ingredient company to specifically promote organic capabilities was certainly a challenge not too long ago.
Berries and superfruits
Switching to the ongoing debate on fad versus trend, the concept of berries and superfruit promise just does not go away. We’ve had internal dialogue for some time here at NPIcenter over superfruit characteristics and qualities, watching the marketplace for leveraging and yes, even exploitation of market hype and interest in these products. It’s with interest that we track the continued emergence of amla…..and also promise our viewers more substance and perspective on berries and superfruits on NPIcenter in the future. We start to deliver on that promise with Berry Research Breakthroughs: Ten Trendsetters of 2007-8, a review of current berry research and developments provided by NPIcenter contributor Dr. Paul Gross.
I’m sure we’ll see substantiation for these and other topics at the upcoming IFT at the end of the month in New Orleans. We’ll also see dialogue and rhetoric from the supplements side as the first GMP compliance date comes and goes later this month.