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Industry thought leaders peer into 2011 natural product trends

Nine industry thought leaders pontificate on all things bright and beautiful in 2011 - from supplements to regulations, botanicals to the Next Big Thing. Thought leaders include: Jim Tonkin Loren Israelsen Anthony Almada Jim Wagner Mark Blumenthal Marc Ketchel Peter Wojewnik Kantha Shelke Mark J. Tallon


Jim Tonkin

Beer and soda sales are down. Functional drinks are up. The four growth categories are energy shots, relaxation drinks, protein drinks and coconut water.

Why coconut water, why now? Coconut water is hitting a chord. There are 89 countries around the world that harvest coconuts, so supply is not an issue. It's going to be a gigantic international packaged product. Coconuts are not so well known inside the U.S. but that is not so around the globe.

If you look at any of the beverage publications that rely on scanned data, you'll see how many new coconut waters have come on the market in the last five years. VitaCoco, Zieco and ONE, which stands for One Natural Experience – those are the three major competitors in a market that might have $60 million in sales. Coke bought an 18.5 percent portion in Zieco, Pepsi will buy ONE, and VitaCoco has a distribution agreement with Dr Pepper/Snapple Group but it's privately funded now. I'm associated with Zieco but I believe in it anyway. We're looking at a billion-dollar brand in Zieco. If Zieco is a billion-dollar brand that tells you how big the category is.

If you think about what Gatorade did in developing a whole confluence of electrolytes, those were synthetic electrolytes. In coconut water, we have 670mg potassium per 11-oz serving, and these are found naturally inside coconut water.

My daily supps: Men's multiple, coQ10, Wellmune immune primer and 81mg baby aspirin because I'm 60.

Jim Tonkin is president of HealthyBrand Builders.


Loren Israelsen

The storyline on the delay of the New Dietary Ingredients (NDIs) guidance goes like this: Wait, wait, we're thinking about it. We'll have something out by the end of the year. No wait, we're not sure when it's going to come out. What's the hang-up?

I believe it becomes a Talmudic exercise to figure out when a plant extract went from being old and became new. What solvents are used, what type of extraction process, the strength of the extraction, what part of the plant, etc. – all of these things need to be considered.

I think the most current iteration of thinking is to look at NDIs more broadly, essentially as the premarket review gateway.

As far as Congress is concerned, I would expect to see a less-active agenda than we have seen over the past four years with the change of majority in the House and committee control changes.

As for the FDA and FTC, I expect them to continue to ramp up the level of enforcement. With respect to the FDA, I hope that they will continue to aggressively go out and conduct GMP inspections and aggressively go after spiked products. The caveat here is that the FTC is certainly expanding its scope of interest. There is some danger that it may go too far.

My daily supps: Omega-3s, probiotic blend, niacin, CoQ10, seaweed extract, ribose, red salvia root extract, carnitine, green superfood mix, and anti-inflammatory medical food.

Loren Israelsen is executive director of the United Natural Products Alliance.


Anthony Almada

I think this sector will continue to grow. Products that are “experiential” continue to be top selling. That's why so many weight-loss products use stimulants; people can feel them working.

We've seen the entry of foods that have been caffeine spiked. We've seen confections, candy bars and gums. But they all have the challenge of less-than-desirable sensory pleasure impact.  They don't taste good.  So you have to have a large payload to distribute the caffeine through and to be able to mask that with sweeteners.

As far as herbal ingredients go: They continue to be used and toyed around with, but they don't deliver on that promise of an energy supplement without caffeine. Those products that are energy positioned and don't contain caffeine don't sell very well. Or they're dogs.

The most significant recent development: PowerBar introducing a supplement with beta-alanine. That's a significant advancement for a Nestlé-owned brand that had almost always marketed food forms: bars, some drinks, gels and powders – and then it comes out with a tablet. That's a radical departure. Beta-alanine going into performance drinks is one to watch because it's going to continue to get more and more attention. It's one of those very few ingredients that really works.

My daily supps: Vitargo S2, creatine, whey protein, ultra pure fish oil, borage oil,  Fein (occasionally – when tired!),  L. acidophilus NCFM powder, Japanese green tea (brewed beverage),  Italian milk thistle extract,  NAC,  vitamin E, glucosamine.
Anthony Almada is president and CEO of Genr8.

Market trends

Jim Wagner

There once was a time when food was food and supplements were supplements, and the twain hardly ever met. No longer.

In 2011, the market for healthy foods and dietary supplements will mature. Both segments will see significant growth as consumers strive to adopt behaviors that steer them toward prevention.  Single-digit growth is almost certain: double digits are not out of the question.

What will be new is the gravitation pull exerted by international markets.  Demand for natural products is up in countries such as Brazil, China, India and Russia. Their nascent middle classes have discretionary income and investors have noticed. One T. Rowe Price analyst discussion actually mentioned Nestlé and Tesco in the same sentence as Richemont, owners of luxury brands such as Cartier and Piaget. Watch for astute multinationals to tap this revenue stream with new product offerings and if necessary, acquisitions in local markets.

What might happen – and the emphasis is on might – is a movement toward eclectic management strategies. It's worth noting that NBTY recently named Jeffrey Nagel chief executive officer. Nagel's resume includes senior positions in GE's consumer electronics, aircraft engine and inspection technology groups. Nagel may take supplements, but his expertise isn't selling them. What he does possess is a wealth of international management experience that clearly is what NBTY considers essential.

Companies can prepare for these changes with a variety of tools, including events, trade shows, conferences, online media and print magazines. Yes, there still is a place for the information found in print as long as the information is current, relevant and supported by science.

My daily supps: Multivitamin, omega-3 capsules, green tea and the occasional use of echinacea.

Jim Wagner is the business development director of the New Hope Supply Network.


Mark Blumenthal

I think the large increase in 2009 herbal dietary-supplements sales was due in part to the H1N1/swine flu epidemic scare, which drove increased sales of echinacea, elderberry extract and syrup and other immunomodulating herbs. Fortunately, it appears that such concerns are not being expressed by public health officials for the 2011 cold and flu season.

The second reason may be the usual increase in self-medication that we tend to witness during economic downturns.
In regard to adulterants and quality control, I see two issues:

The American Botanical Council (ABC) is preparing the “ABC Solvents White Paper” in which we will discuss the use of industrial solvents in the preparation of herbal extracts and other natural food items. The extent of solvent use is not commonly discussed in the herb industry.

Also, I believe the adulterants issue will become more prominent in 2011. ABC (along with the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and other groups) is currently working on “The ABC-AHP Botanical Adulterants White Paper” in which we intend to list many popular herbs, herbal extracts and essential oils for which we have evidence of adulteration; the identity of the adulterant; and references to microscopic and chemical testing methods to determine presence or absence of such adulterants.

Sceletium? We've been watching this herb for more than 10 years. We believe that this herb probably needs published human clinical research, which presumably may help document its proposed beneficial mood-affecting properties, and support its presumed safety as well as proposed structure/function claims.

My daily supps: ALA, folic acid/B12,  chrysin, CoQ10, diindolymethane, fish oil, lycopene, niacin, saw palmetto, vitamins C and D3,  Rhodiola rosea  extract, herbal anti-inflammatory formula.

Mark Blumenthal is executive director of the American Botanical Council.


Marc Ketchel

Omega-3s, sweeteners, GMOs. I see growing concerns from those close to the oceans about the pressure the fish-oil sector is putting on the world's depleting fish stocks. A conscious move to plant-based omega-3s is the only sustainable option. There will be an increased awareness of chia seed as the most abundant source of omega-3s in the plant world. Expect to see many more products introduced with chia to supply the daily needs of omega-3s, fiber and protein in our diets. Chia is destined to be a star because in addition to omega-3s it contains more than 40 percent fiber and 20 percent protein. It's a complete package – a real superfood!

Americans are addicted to their sweeteners. Alternative sweeteners that have a low glycemic index will continue to see interest from consumers, particularly those with weight and blood-sugar issues. Luo Han Guo and yacon are promising possibilities in the coming year, particularly if the ingredients' leading producers can develop a viable marketing/education strategy.

Most Americans are drastically uninformed about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), though that is changing rapidly. There's a lot of science to support a cautious approach, if not outright prohibition of GMOs. Certainly the issue of labeling is a no-brainer. But there are so many interrelated issues that it is challenging for the advocates of a non-GMO world to keep their message consistent.

On the other hand there is  good science supporting the hazardous path we're on. I see a growing wave of concern by knowledgeable consumers.

My daily supps: Calcium/zinc complex, spirulina, vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E,  coQ10, coenzyme B complex, chromium, plant sterols, probiotics, flaxseed oil, raw protein (vegan),  herbal extracts.
Marc Ketchel is president of natural products blog Organic Foods Reviews:


Peter Wojewnik

Unlike in the U.S., where dietary supplements are monitored primarily post-market, Canada requires products to be assessed for safety, efficacy and quality and be licensed prior to market entry by the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD). These regulations, initiated Jan. 1, 2004, outlined a six-year phase-in period for a variety of classes of natural health products, including extracts, vitamins, minerals, isolates, probiotics and homeopathics. But on Jan 1, 2010 there were still 10,000 products (out of nearly 50,000 original license applications) pending review.

The industry demanded a solution and on Aug. 4, the NHPD adopted the new Natural Health Products Unprocessed Product License Application Regulations (UPLAR). This provides a temporary solution for the backlogged products by legalizing their sale in the interim.  A product in queue is issued an exemption number (EN) 180 days after receipt of the application by the NHPD and can be sold legally pending review.

This March, the active enforcement stage will take effect. At that point, all products on store shelves will be expected to have a product license or at least an EN. Products without these will be targeted for enforcement and may be subject to a stop sale or even a recall. UPLAR is set to expire in February 2013. This was designed to grant NHPD time to clear its backlog of applications.

Gone are the days when the industry could go to market in Canada with nothing more than a product in queue with the NHPD awaiting assessment. Companies must now factor regulatory considerations into their planning to ensure they can launch their products in a timely manner.

My daily supps: Fish oil, protein, B vitamins.

Peter Wojewnik is director of business development for dicentra inc.


Kantha Shelke

Major multinational brands are seriously exploring medicinal foods to “prevent or correct acute chronic diseases.” The convergence of food and pharma for personalized health and nutrition takes advantage of nutraceuticals and is focused on keeping at bay issues such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. Expect to see more pharmaceutical players in the functional- ingredients sector. 

But don't expect to see flashy labels and health claims – regulators have clearly established their stance in this matter. There will be little to no tolerance of flamboyant marketing.

A substantive shift appears to be underway in new product development (NPD) and innovation. Branded products seem to be shying away from innovation and NPD and toward regulatory compliance, quality and safety. On the private label front, the bad economy and regulatory uncertainties have encouraged, on the other hand, some honest-to-goodness innovation rather than just knock-offs.

Expect to see new types of products  emerge – not ones that predominantly tout a roster of beneficial ingredients, but ones that will subtly whisper they do not contain (perceived) harmful ingredients.

And there will be stars! Stevia will steal market share – not from sucralose or aspartame, but from sugar. It will also bring Lo Han Guo along. Probiotics will show a strong steady growth and so will fish oil. Sophisticated delivery mechanisms will allow for fortification and longer shelf life. And there will be a lot more fruits and vegetables in practically every category.

My daily supps: I never go a day without almonds and yogurt!

Kantha Shelke is a partner at Corvus Blue consultancy.


Mark J. Tallon

European retail markets have been defined by the continuing global financial crisis. After the bailouts of Greece and Ireland, and now concerns over the fiscal stability of Portugal and Spain, you would think things couldn't look worse for 2011. Enter the Nutritional Health Claims Regulation (NHCR) and its far-reaching influence on industry's ability to make nutrition and health claims.

The fallout as of late 2010 is a rejection rate of more than 89 percent for the 1,845 health claims made on products and ingredients following scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Although most of these opinions have yet to be entered into law, these rejections could potentially mean short-term revenue losses in the EU exceeding $383 million (€290 million).  A similar rejection rate is likely for the 2,800 health-claim opinions awaiting assessment.

However, the NHCR will not be the only regulation impacting sales of functional ingredients. It is expected that the “maximum permitted levels” (MPL) for vitamins and minerals will also be released. The enactment of MPLs could severely restrict the sale of large-dose vitamins (e.g., more than 250mg of vitamin C). This could depress sales in the mass and natural channels in favor of harder-to-police online outlets.

On an up note, botanicals will not be assessed by EFSA until late 2011, suggesting current claims made on botanicals may remain unscathed until 2012. With the pressures placed on other nutrients, botanicals may be the only corner left for true innovation in the European market.

My daily supps: Multivitamin and mineral, selenium, vitamin D (1,000 IU),  vitamin C (500-1,000mg), vitamin K2 and whey protein isolate (40g 2x per day)

Mark J. Tallon, Ph.D., is a principal in Nutrisciences Ltd., a UK-based food consultancy.

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