Week in Review - An Appetite for Nutritional Products.

By Len Monheit
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The past week’s news combined with this week’s Institute of Food Technologists event in Chicago (expected to draw more than 20,000 food scientists and food industry professionals), suggest that many on the supply-side of the industry are turning their attention to the business prospects in the food market. Much larger and mature than other sectors, the food industry represents both an opportunity and challenge for those seeking to participate in the functional food, beverage, snack and confectionary space.

Several sessions at IFT will have input or relate to the natural products and supplements industry including a forum Sunday morning dealing specifically with dietary supplement cGMP’s.

Last year the significant presence of companies from the traditional supplements sector was evident on the show floor, and at IFT seminars. Many industry companies have since explored the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) affirmation process as they attempt to sell ingredients to the food industry. At this past year’s Nutracon too, much of the emphasis was on food, nutrition and how companies could position and present themselves to best advantage, especially to the larger companies involved in these areas.

Next week’s Newport Summit and its agenda also reflects this realization of potential. Issues such as Natural, Organic & Functional Foods Trends and Growth Opportunities and the impact of obesity in the food business on the agenda for the Summit, combined with a full slate of attendees, reinforces the fact that the sector is top of mind.

‘Food and Health’ were also on the mind of regulators this week as FDA issued its “Interim Procedures for Qualified Health Claims in the Labeling of Conventional Human Food and Human Dietary Supplements” which, despite a lengthy petition process, will benefit companies with a strong scientific position. The process should also raise baseline understanding of the relationship between nutrition and health, and even if this is the sole outcome of the program, it will be a positive step.

Following last year’s IFT, several companies announced new agreements involving cross-over of either products or process between the food and supplement sectors. I’d be very surprised if this year was not even more active and exciting.

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