A couple of years ago at Nutracon – the formulator-directed conference at the front end of Natural Products Expo West held in Anaheim every March – I sat at a table during a workshop on new product development. Also at the table was an L.A. entrepreneur, Robert Reagan, who was down the road in launching a weight-loss drink that featured a nutritional payload in the bottle cap. You'd press the cap and the powder would fall into the bottle – shake, drink.
The Nutracon panelists had each table blue-sky a new product idea, which we would present after a break. We got to talking about what we did the previous night and – lo and behold – brainstormed a vodka-based beverage idea that included organic berry combinations like pomegranate and açai. We also thought we’d mix in some milk thistle, for liver help, what with the elixir being based on that organic vodka.
A man's got to dream, right?
Reagan ran with the idea and started up the Vlixir Beverage Co. He toured the show floor at SupplyExpo (also held in conjunction with Expo West) and found some suppliers to make his vision a reality. Late last year the flagship product – Lixir Vodka 88 – was awarded a gold medal in Cannes for design and packaging.
One of the great things about Nutracon/SupplyExpo/Expo West is the education. Of course, it's more than education. After all, it's said that a poor teacher describes, a good teacher explains, an excellent teacher demonstrates and a great teacher inspires.
Who doesn't leave the circus that is Anaheim truly inspired?
For it was there that I first heard the word "superfruits" uttered. Dipped my finger into a bag of sweet ribose and beta-glucans, and, truth be told, didn't see the potential of these natural, functional bioactive ingredients in mass market plays like vitamin waters and immunity wafers. But it didn't matter that I didn't see it – somebody did, and, in study after case study, companies large and small have gone to town with new product concepts germinated in Anaheim.
For a virtual Expo experience, I'd like to briefly point you to a new department – the Ideal Ingredient Calling Card. Each month, editor-at-large Kantha Shelke gives you the down-low on significant ingredients you’ve no doubt thought about. We think you’ll like it so much, you’ll want to print out every one for your files and colleagues. This month: omega-3s.
If this one-pager on omega-3s is not enough for you, we have another new informational resource that will provide you with the foundation for new product ideation – the Ingredient Intelligence Monograph Series. Pricing, trends, innovations, source comparisons, business forecast, and more. For more info, go to www.newhope360.com/ingredientintel.
Beat writer Lawrence Ferlinghetti once said: "Some days I just don't know what to make of things. Other days I'm sure I have the solution to everything."
In Anaheim this month, we’ll all be working on the solution to everything – or, at least, our own personal, passionate little business interests. Let’s get busy!
Letter From the Editor: Functional Ingredients, March 2011