Healthy Foods highlights

Hurricane Katrina has another name. Global warming. There are 80,000 chemicals in our environment today, and we only know the health implications of 20,000 of them. Prior to the 1940s, everyone in the world ate organic. Today, organic foods have 1.4 per cent market share — we are a rounding error. Some day, people will look back at us as the great guinea pigs of history.

—Gary Hirshberg, chairman, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, the largest organic dairy in North America

The second annual Healthy Foods Conference at Expo East on Sept 14-16 introduced mainstream multinationals to the latest trends facing the industry and to the most promising evidence-based ingredients that might slip under their radar — at least until smaller companies start making millions with innovative new products.

In busy conference rooms, attendees heard insights and wisdom from such leading industry analysts and players as David Macnair of Cadbury Schweppes, Anthony Almada of ImagiNutrition and Douglas Balentine of Unilever Health Institute, to name just a few.

Here, some highlights:

Emerging science
5 ingredients with promising market potential
Probiotics: The ?friendly bacteria? that inhabit the GI tract can improve gut health and immune function. Although widely embraced in Europe and Japan, probiotics have yet to take hold in North America outside of yoghurts. European probiotics producers are working on applications that could crack the North American market.

What was hot in 2005 New product SKUs:
328 high omega-3s
298 whole grain
116 low GI

Ingredients to watch:
Green tea
Black vinegar
Black sesame seeds

—Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor?s Productscan Online

Prebiotic fibres: The preferred source of nourishment for probiotic bacteria, prebiotic fibres are a more recent introduction to world markets but could conceivably catch on in North America faster than probiotics due to the USDA?s recent endorsement of high-fibre diets.

Oat beta-glucan: New concentrations along with expanded commercial availability of this ingredient are good news for consumers watching their cholesterol, blood pressure or weight. Oats have the highest protein quality and concentration of any cereal, and its unique soluble fibre, called beta-glucan, can easily be added to products.

Ascorbic acid: A vitamin C study not yet published notes that 500mg/day of ascorbic acid cuts the incidence of colds. A marketer could launch a product before the study gets publicised to capitalise on the news, which should be just in time for this winter?s cold and flu season.

Apple cider vinegar: Also known as acetic acid, this ingredient blunts the glycaemic response, lowering blood glucose levels and modulating insulin. This vinegar-tasting ingredient could be easily meshed with the classic comfort food, fish and chips (French fries), so a person with blood-sugar issues could have his cake and eat it, too.

—Anthony Almada, chief science officer at ImagiNutrition and columnist for Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals

Where the worries are
Research by Unilever Health Institute shows that health concerns worldwide are remarkably similar, namely:

  • cancer
  • heart health
  • stress
  • weight
  • tiredness
And research further shows that marketing positives ? health benefits ? is far more effective than selling disease prevention.

—Douglas Balentine, PhD, Unilever Health Institute, and director of nutrition sciences for Unilever North America

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