A quarterly feature on companies that are breaking new ground through innovative ingredients and applications.
Pioneer of heat-steam purification
Offering more than 200 raw plant-based materials gathered from suppliers some 80 countries, Martin Bauer is a leader in the supply of plant-based materials, it offers a full line of raw materials; tea cuts; powders; extracts; tea and decaffeinated tea extracts; and natural flavours to the nutritional supplement, phytopharmaceutical, food, beverage and cosmetics industries. It sells botanical products worldwide with particularly strong sales in Europe. Germany is its leading market, the US its top export market.
The group began in 1875 when pharmacist Hermann Finzelberg first produced plant extracts in Andernach, Germany. Over the next 130 years, the Finzelberg brand became recognized for supplying high-quality herbal extracts. Today, Finzelberg manufactures extracts in various forms produced in accordance with German Drug Law and EU-GMP Guidelines.
In 1980, the company created Plantextrakt. "Plantextrakt specialises in application and flavour technologies, as well as product innovation," explains Oliver Hack, head of sales for Martin Bauer Germany. "We sell to major food and beverage companies all over the world, and draw upon this global expertise to offer a comprehensive product range, including flavours, tea extracts and decaffeinated tea extracts specially tailored for use in complex food and beverage applications."
More than just an ingredients supplier, Plantextrakt provides a full range of services, including customised product development, full documentation and technical support. Most of its ingredients have earned kosher, halal and organic certifications, and operate under cGMP standards.
In 1993, Martin Bauer launched PhytoLab, an independent laboratory for quality control, specialising in the development, analysis and registration of plant-based products. It has become a leading provider of reference standards and method development.
"PhytoLab employs 150 people, including 30 graduate scientists, among them pharmacists, food analysts, biologists and chemists with many years of experience in herbal products," Hack explains. "Our scientists are engaged members in committees of pharmaceutical and food-industry associations, professional associations as well as of the German Institute for Drugs and Medicinal Devices."
In response to growing industry demand for cleaner, pathogen-free ingredients, Martin Bauer developed the MABA-THERM technology, enabling clients to replace irradiation or Ethylenoxide. Unlike conventional batch-steam treatment processes, which can result in uneven treatment of a product, MABA-THERM is an in-line process, allowing more accurate temperature control and exposure time for each product.
"This protects the taste profile and other key properties, such as essential oils or marker compounds," Hack says. "The process draws upon a database containing many thousand sets of values concerning all parameters of the process, including microbial results, colour, density and sensory impact, allowing for continuous optimisation of the process."
North America's largest botanical-extracts supplier
Naturex is one of the world's largest suppliers of plant extracts; in the US, it has the largest capacity for botanical extraction (10 tonnes of raw materials per day) and spray-drying (50 tonnes per day), with plants based in New Jersey and California.
The company also has manufacturing facilities in France and Italy, and is the only company in the market with a Moroccan extraction plant, close to many raw-materials resources. It controls all the stages of the manufacturing process, from raw materials to final extracts, and applies comprehensive analytical testing to every batch.
One company hallmark is its strong partnership with its suppliers. Naturex's purchasing director and four purchasing managers travel the world in pursuit of new botanicals and in support of existing supply partnerships.
"It is these relationships, as well as our systematic analysis of crops and batches, that enable us to provide useful guidelines for specific cultivation methods," explains Antoine Dauby, marketing manager for Naturex. "For instance, we are currently bringing new botanical extracts to the market that were sourced in Morocco across the spectacular Atlas and Rif mountain areas. We only purchase botanicals that have been sustainably harvested."
Naturex is known as a sound science-based company with six PhDs on staff and 68 scientific support staff working in R&D and quality control. Naturex is one of the few companies to own a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer to investigate products on the molecular level. It was with its use that the company discovered, identified and isolated macamides and macaenes to set the industry standard for Maca.
Another example is the company's best-selling GinseniPure, an extract of the Panax ginseng root, standardised up to 15 per cent ginsenosides and available in a water-soluble form, for use in beverages. The extracts are thoroughly tested for contamination, and GinseniPure has been validated quintozene-free by numerous third-party laboratories.
CimiPure, Naturex's black-cohosh extract standardised to 2.5 per cent triterpene glycosides, is currently being tested in a large scale and multi-year clinical trial on menopausal women at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
"While plenty of inexpensive Asian black cohosh floods the market, Naturex uses US black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), the only species with proven efficacy," Dauby says. "We have developed an exclusive analytical method to differentiate the two."
Creator of novel botanical formulas
Founded in 1988, Sabinsa Corporation manufactures and markets 20 nutritional fine chemicals, more than 50 standardised herbal extracts and powders, and more than 20 synthetic intermediates.
Despite its extensive offerings, the company has become known as a reliable, science-based company that conducts extensive research on its product line.
Sabinsa developed a highly purified standardised black-pepper extract sold under the trade name Bioperine. It has four US patents, with EU and other international patents pending, for its use as a bioavailability enhancer of nutritional compounds. Numerous clinical trials have proven its safety and efficacy.
The company has also developed a standardised Coleus forskohlii root extract named ForsLean, which was the winner of Nutracon's 2001 NutrAward for best new product.
"ForsLean has been independently reviewed by CANTOX International to assess its safety and toxicity," explains Todd Norton, president of Sabinsa. "A unique feature of the ingredient is the massive farming co-op cultivation efforts our company has undertaken in India to assure a reliable and safe supply."
Its third unique botanical offering is a selenium-enriched garlic product called GarliSelect. To create it, scientists introduce a nonorganic selenium complex into the garlic bulbs at a certain stage of their growth, and the selenium is then incorporated into the bulbs and converted into various organic forms of selenium.
On maturation, the bulbs are dried and powdered, and contain standardised minimum levels of several highly bio-available forms of selenium in the form of organic compounds. This novel process won the company the 2006 NBJ Business Summit's Product Merit Award.
Yet another unique botanical ingredient is a standardised extract from the roots of Curcuma longa (turmeric). Called Curcumin C3 Complex, the 'C3' represents three curcuminoids available in specific percentages in formula. "What sets this curcumin composition apart from other commercial materials is its use in various pre-clinical and clinical studies," Norton says. "MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, has used our material in several studies; and last year UCLA-Los Angeles completed a study looking at C3 Complex's impact on Alzheimer's disease."
Sabinsa has developed other novel products from botanical origins outside the dietary-supplements category, such as a line of cosmeceutical actives, some recently licensed worldwide to Degussa; an antiglaucoma opthalmic solution from a botanical source that is registered as a prescription drug in India; and a topical psoriasis cream utilising a highly purified botanical extract currently being evaluated in a 300-subject study.
The magic of micro-encapsulation
Blue California, a prominent botanicals and speciality ingredients manufacturer in Southern California for more than a decade, is quickly making a name for itself as a king of micro-encapsulation.
First lutein, then essential oils, and, most recently, phytosterols — the company is chasing its mission to bring the healthful benefits of botanicals and bioactives to the widest possible range of food products.
"For the past three years, we have been dedicated to the development of new extraction and process technologies that can help our customers find solutions for their unique R&D projects," says Cecilia McCollum, executive vice president.
"We have worked really hard to be able to turn oil-soluble compounds into fine-mesh, free-flowing powders that are both soluble in cold water and can guarantee stability. We are finding amazing new applications for this advanced technology, not only in the dietary-supplements industry, but also in the foods, cosmetics and beverage industries."
The company's first test of its new technology was an innovative form of lutein, which is an important pigment used by the retina for vision. Called Biolut Lutein Ester WS 5%, it was launched in July 2006, and it touts excellent solubility and a two-year shelf life.
Using a new proprietary and patent-pending micro-encapsulation process, the company was able to turn the oil-soluble ingredient into a free-flowing powder that has both stability and solubility in cold water. The new material can be used in capsules, tablets, functional foods and soluble powders.
In November 2006, the company launched micro-encapsulated versions of rosemary and mango essential oils, offering these as free-flowing powders that are stable and soluble in water. Blue California has been working with other manufacturers in the development of a complete line of water-soluble essential oils with possible applications for cosmetics and topical products such as shampoos, lotions and creams, as well as beverages and functional foods.
The company's latest advance was its introduction in January of the micro-encapsulated VitaSterols 40% phytosterols. Sold as a powder, it is also water soluble, enabling a wide range of product applications for an ingredient that for many years has been limited to oil-based products, like yoghurts and butters.
Founded in 1994, Blue California produces more than 550 kosher-certified ingredients, including 120 standardised botanical extracts. The company, which is based in Rancho Santa Margarita, also maintains a GMP-certified manufacturing facility in China; it is only the third US manufacturer to have successfully met NSF's requirements for GMP registration. The facility produces nonirradiated ingredients using steam and ozone sterilization.