Best ideas of 2011 in the nutrition market

Functional Ingredients editor-in-chief Todd Runestad ruminates on the exciting trends he sees emerging in the dietary supplements and functional foods/beverages market right now.


Niche multivitamins
Straight-up multi sales are down, but it’s being more than made up for with vitamins for the 50+ set, for women, for men, for teens. Rainbow Light does a fine job here with its niche multi SKUs.

Clear is in demand on functional beverages
This ranges from CoQ10 to omegas, Vitamin D and even carotenoids—the term used by some is “white carotenoids.” It’s costly but demand seems to be growing.

Calorie avoidance
Everyone is trying to avoid calories. Caloric count is huge on functional food projects—an important question when looking at adding new ingredients.

Says Seth Zalkin from global M&A advisory firm Astor Group: “Positive macro trends will drive sustained growth in Brazil’s food and beverage sectors and create even more attention from multinational companies and institutional investors in the years to come. The impact of more consumers, with more money and more credit, cannot be overstated. Brazil is entering its prime.”

NC-518 calcium
Not just any calcium, which got dinged this year in a meta-analysis that postulated calcium, being the main constituent of arterial plaque, is actually bad for you. NC-518 is a novel calcium ingredient from Helios Corp. In phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials, NC-518 demonstrated superior ability to not just maintain bone health but actually improve bone mineral density—even when compared to pharmaceuticals.

The Pentagon
The war machine is studying the effect of fish oil on shell-shocked desert troops. The US Navy got its hands on a half-billion dollars over three years to up production of algae biofuels, which gives a helping hand to algae producers that are otherwise focusing on omega-3 fatty acid oils for nutraceutical and food additive markets.

Soft claims
In Europe, a cloud of uncertainty hovering over health claims has resulted in a drop in numbers of food and drink products launched on an “active health” [food plus] platform, despite growth in “passive health” [food minus] launches.

Fruits & veggies
A revival in fruits and vegetables is apparent as manufacturers go back to basics and focus more on the inherent health benefits available. Packaged fruit snacks, fruit smoothies and juice and water blends are all enjoying considerable activity.

Best delivery method to get you caught up, shots are beginning to diversify from amino-, B- and caffeine-laden energy shots to nutritional powerhouses from V8 and Bazi. Order up!
Website has great data on caffeine content. Drinks should be voluntarily listing caffeine content—do it now, lest the FDA tell you to (it has the authority to do so, and also require a warning).

Supplement delivery format innovations
30 million people have issues with swallowing pills—among them children and the elderly. Can you say "opportunity"?

Choice and transparency
Healthy beverage company Silk confronted supply-chain issues with organic soy and decided to go non-organic. Instead they put codes on soymilk boxes that consumers could use to go to the web and find the exact farm where the soybeans were grown—all from American farmers. Different price points for different products has led to greater fortunes.

King Caffeine and its upstart court
The enhancing effects of caffeine enjoy more evidence than many prescription and OTC drugs. However, the quest for uniqueness invariably demands risk taking—the introduction of other chemicals and plant extracts with stimulant effects but a paucity of safety and efficacy evidence. What actually makes caffeine work better, or works just like caffeine?

Consumers want their consumables to be pure, simple and natural—including the ingredients that go into them.

Fish oil optimization
It used to take 30 kg of crude fish oil to yield 1 kg of EPA concentrate, but recent work like using the waste stream from salmon farms has cut the crude oil amount in half.

Phospholipids are being used as carriers to radically improve the absorption of nutrients like vitamin C, krill, glutathione and botanicals.

BioLumix desktop microbiology testing machine
In-house assays, no microbiologist needed. Simplified testing tech monitors samples, customizes reports, makes your company more efficient at detecting yeast, molds, E. coli, salmonella and more.

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