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Polyphenols protect jocks

Marathoners may want to skip the carb-loading pre-race spaghetti feast and gorge on blueberries instead, perhaps with a refreshing green tea chaser. That way, they can accept congratulatory hugs at the finish line and not worry that they’ll come down with a post-race crud instead of sailing off in a post-race high.

Recent research suggests that polyphenols, like those in blueberries and green tea, may boost athletes’ immune systems after intense exercise – a time when they’re usually compromised.

Scientists at the North Carolina Research Campus studied a group of long-distance runners for 17 days. One group took 40 grams per day of a blueberry-green tea-polyphenol soy protein complex – the equivalent to eating three cups of blueberries and a cup and a half of green tea per day. The other group took a placebo. At day 14, the subjects began three days of intense running for two and half hours. Researchers tested their blood 14 days before and after the trial and immediately and 14 hours after the third day of heavy running.

Normally, athletes experience depressed immune systems for up to 72 hours after competing in a race like a marathon. The runners in the study who took the polyphenol-laced cocktail did not show signs of this. In fact, their blood serum showed dramatically reduced viral replication when tested. “These results indicate that polyphenol complexes containing blueberry and green tea have the potential to protect athletes from virus infections following rigorous exercise,” according to the article’s abstract.

The research appeared in the journal Phytotherapy Research and was noted on This is just the latest research supporting the health-promoting powers of polyphenols. A meta-analysis published last year in a special Polyphenols and Human Health issue of the journal Nutrients touted their potential for protecting the heart and fighting the symptoms of aging.


Why the time is right for a national organic check-off

Gary Hirshberg commentary

The organic sector is at a critical juncture. The demand for organic is soaring. Sales of organic food and non-food products are expected to have broken a new record of nearly $40 billion in 2014. More than 80 percent of families in the U.S. now buy organic products.

But consumer surveys increasingly underscore what many of us already know – consumers are more and more confused about unregulated claims on food throughout grocery stores, crediting many labels with the attributes that only come from buying organic. Consumers think that foods labeled non-GMO are organic, that “natural” foods do not contain artificial ingredients, that “locally grown” always means grown without pesticides. We organic businesses simply can’t afford this confusion!

As a result, America’s certified organic stakeholders – farmers, ranchers, distributors and food makers – are now deliberating the most potentially transformative step for the organic industry since the first discussions over 20 years ago to develop national guidelines and regulations for the then-fledgling sector - whether to adopt a national organic check-off program.

I believe that the time is right for a research and promotion check-off program that is designed specifically for the organic sector. There are two reasons for this.

Confusion and tight supplies

Consumer confusion: There’s no doubt that we need a large, loud and coordinated promotion plan to clear up the current consumer misunderstanding. We simply need to do a better job of educating what it means to be organic and why, if you are concerned about eliminating unnecessary toxins in our food supply, organic is the only choice. (Get the latest update on the fight to label GMOs at the session at Expo West on Saturday, March 7 in which I’ll be participating.)

Supply shortages: The number one crisis facing the organic sector now and for the future is supply shortages. We need more farmers in America to go organic. Otherwise, organic food companies will continue to face shortages of organic ingredients every year because domestic organic production just can’t keep up with the robust demand for organic.

An organic check-off would enable the entire sector to benefit from promotion and research programs that provide consumer education, on-farm and regional research solutions, and ultimately, increase the number of organic farmers. It would be a game changer for organic, for our children and our planet.

Everyone pays, everyone benefits

An organic check-off would be unprecedented. It would not promote a specific commodity, but instead a specific agricultural production process -- a process that adheres to stringent federal requirements to grow food without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and GMOs, raise animals without antibiotics and synthetic hormones, and process food without preservatives and artificial colors.

But who would pay for this? The organic check-off proposal would be an industry-wide opportunity for all organic stakeholders to join together. We’d all share in building a “broad and shallow” approach whereby all organic certificate holders in the supply chain with gross annual sales above $250,000 would contribute to a collective fund. The proposed assessment calls for one-tenth of 1 percent. So, for example, there would be a maximum $1,000 assessment for every $1 million in gross organic revenue.

The proposal also creates an exemption for small farmers and businesses that make less than $250,000 per year. Exempt operations could voluntarily choose to contribute a flat fee of $100 per year to contribute to the collective fund and have a say in how the money is spent. Businesses that already participate in another federal check-off would get to choose where to direct their assessment.

It’s estimated an organic check-off program could raise up to $40 million per year! This would allow for more money to be spent on promotion, research and consumer education: promoting the benefits of organic and explaining why organic can sometimes cost more and why it is worth more, research that would translate into everyday solutions for organic farmers and encourage others to transition to organic practices.

An organic check-off program would strengthen the voice of the organic sector and allow us to get our message to the American consumer in a clear, transparent way.

The vision is still clear

The organic sector was founded by visionaries who believed in a better, more healthy and sustainable way to raise our food and to be the stewards of our precious land. The vision is still clear and we work everyday to accomplish it.

An organic check-off can make this vision a reality. This can be the moment we give organic a beautiful future!

Is a check-off the right next step for the organic sector?

Natural Foods Merchandiser

24 new stores, growth in private label push Sprouts Farmers Market’s annual sales to nearly $3B

sprouts farmers market store

Increasing customer traffic, an expanding private label program and an aggressive growth strategy equated to another impressive quarter—and year—€”for Sprouts Farmers Market.

In an earnings call Wednesday, company executives reported 21 percent growth in fourth-quarter net sales and 8.5 percent growth in comparable store sales. For 2014, net sales totaled a record $2.97 billion, a 22 percent increase from the previous year. Adjusted net income was $111.2 million, up 65 percent from 2013, and diluted earnings per share grew 50 percent to 72 cents.

"This year's outstanding results further demonstrate our belief that consumers'€™ desire to eat healthier continues to build across the country,"€ President and CEO Doug Sanders said, noting that the grocer's sweet spot is middle-income consumers looking for healthier and more affordable food choices. It'€™s reported consistently strong growth since going public in 2013 and appears to be poised for more in 2015.

He noted several factors for growth, not the least of which was the 24 new stores that opened last year, including new-market entries in Kansas and Georgia. The Phoenix-based grocery chain now operates 191 stores in 10 states with plans to expand into Alabama, Tennessee and Missouri in 2015.

Sprouts also expanded its private label offerings by 16 percent in 2014. Sanders said a number of these items, especially seasonal items, were met with customer excitement and sales growth rates above the store average. Innovation in this area continues to be a focus for this year, especially in the areas of raw, non-GMO, organic and imported foods, he added. Select stores will also be testing new deli offerings this year.

Another focus for the coming year will be improving customer engagement to drive repeat traffic and basket growth, Sanders said. To help, the company will expand the product, service and leadership training programs that it provides to its employees. One thing it's not moving so quickly on, however, is joining competitors like Whole Foods Market in providing online grocery delivery services. To date, company leadership hasn't found a model it thinks would successfully deliver on Sprouts's€™ value commitment to its customers and address their ability to choose their own products, said CFO Amin Maredia. Although the leadership is looking at companies that provide delivery and could pilot a program in one or two markets this year, they signaled they weren't in a hurry on this front.

Sanders additionally mentioned the launch of Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation and a zero-waste initiative at a number of its stores this year but did not elaborate.

BioGaia sales increase 22% in 2014

BioGaia sales increase 22% in 2014

CEO’s comments: “A sales growth of 22 percent (including license revenue from Nestlé 53  percent) and an operating margin of 26 percent for the full year 2014, can only be summed up as a successful year,” says Peter Rothschild, CEO of BioGaia AB. “The fourth quarter showed even better growth than the full year and it is once again gratifying to see that almost all of our markets are growing at a solid pace and that the BioGaia brand is becoming increasingly established, particularly among paediatricians, as the safest and most effective probiotic on the market.”

Full year 2014:

(Figures in brackets refer to the same period of last year)

  • Net sales amounted to SEK 481.8 million (315.9), an increase of SEK 165.9 million (53 percent). Net sales include license revenue of SEK 95.4 million from Nestlé. Excluding license revenue from Nestlé, net sales totaled SEK 386.4 million, an increase of 22 percent (excluding foreign exchange effects, 18 percent).
  • Net sales in the Paediatrics Business Unit reached SEK 313.7 million (238.6), up by SEK 75.1 million (31 percent).
  • Net sales in the Adult Health Business Unit amounted to SEK 69.4 million (75.6), a decrease of SEK 6.2 million (-8 percent). ·
  • Operating profit was SEK 196.9 million (81.7), an increase of SEK 115.2 million (141 percent). Excluding license revenue from Nestlé, operating profit was SEK 101.5 million, an increase of 24 percent (excluding foreign exchange effects and operating expenses for the subsidiary IBT, 21 percent).
  • Profit after tax was SEK 148.0 million (64.2), up by SEK 83.8 million (130 percent). Excluding license revenue from Nestlé, profit after tax was SEK 73.6 million, an increase of 15 percent.
  • Earnings per share totalled SEK 8.53 (3.57). Excluding license revenue from Nestlé, earnings per share were SEK 4.23.
  • The period’s cash flow was SEK -25.0 million (-140.8). Cash and cash equivalents at 31 December 2014 amounted to SEK 210.7 million (234.3).
  • The Board proposes to the upcoming AGM an ordinary dividend of SEK 3.46 per share and an extraordinary dividend of SEK 1.54 per share, for a total dividend of SEK 5.00 per share.

Fourth quarter 2014:

  • Net sales reached SEK 121.4 million (90.2), an increase of SEK 31.2 million (35 percent) (excluding foreign exchange effects, 28 percent).
  • Net sales in the Paediatrics Business Unit totaled SEK 97.8 million (65.6), an improvement of SEK 32.2 million (49 percent).
  • Net sales in the Adult Health Business Unit amounted to SEK 23.0 million (24.1), a decrease of SEK 1.1 million (-4 percent).
  • Operating profit was SEK 30.6 million (23.8), an increase of SEK 6.8 million (29 percent) (excluding foreign exchange effects and operating expenses for the subsidiary IBT, 23 percent).
  • Profit after tax was SEK 19.1 million (16.3), an improvement of SEK 2.8 million (17 percent).
  • Earnings per share totalled SEK 1.04 (0.94).

Key events in the fourth quarter of 2014:

  • Publication of additional study showing that infants with colic cry less with BioGaia’s drops.
  • Publication of study showing that BioGaia Protectis tablets are effective in constipated adults.
  • BioGaia decides to invest in MetaboGen AB.
  • Key events after the end of the year
  • Agreement for the sale of drops in Vietnam.
  • Nestlé launches new products with BioGaia´s probiotic.


Solazyme revenue up 29%

Solazyme revenue up 29%

Solazyme Inc. (NASDAQ: SZYM), a renewable oil and bioproducts company, announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended Dec. 31, 2014.

“Although 2014 was a challenging year, we made great strides against our commercialization and production goals, including launching Encapso™ and our AlgaVia™ microalgae food ingredients, and starting up operations at our Clinton/Galva and SB Oils Moema facilities,” said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme. “We ended 2014 by demonstrating fully integrated operations at Moema and are confident that we will turn the corner to consistent and reliable operations as well. We have great technology, products and partners and though there is hard work in front of us we are excited about our opportunities and the year ahead.”

Financial results
Total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $14.5 million compared with $11.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of 29 percent. Fourth quarter GAAP net loss was $44.9 million compared to a net loss of $33.3 million in the prior year period. On a non-GAAP basis, the net loss was $35.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to a net loss of $27.4 million in the prior year quarter. A reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP results is included below.

Total revenue for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014 was $60.4 million compared with $39.8 million in the prior year, an increase of 52 percent, with the product revenue component of that up 87 percent versus the prior year. Full year 2014 GAAP net loss was $162.1 million, compared with $116.4 million loss in the prior year. On a non-GAAP basis, the net loss was $133.4 million for 2014, compared with $88.6 million in 2013.

“Solazyme’s 2014 revenue growth reflects the continued expansion of our Algenist® product line, shipments from Clinton/Galva and Peoria of Encapso™ and AlgaVia™ branded products, as well as delivery against all of our joint development milestones for our partners,” said Tyler Painter, COO and CFO of Solazyme. “We are focused on maximizing the returns on our capacity investments and driving efficiencies across our operations. We are well positioned financially to accelerate the commercialization of our products in 2015.”

Business review

Moema: In December, we demonstrated the ability to operate on a fully integrated basis at Moema, achieving a major technical milestone for the company by demonstrating integrated operations from input sugar to crude oil. Our goal at Moema in 2015 is to reach consistent fully integrated operations and ramp production volumes.

Clinton/Galva: We began commercial production in Clinton and Galva and successfully produced five unique products during the course of the year.

Encapso™: Solazyme introduced Encapso, the world’s first commercially-available, biodegradable encapsulated oil for use as a lubricant in drilling fluids. Commercial rig results have confirmed that Encapso delivered operational improvements such as reductions in torque, increases in drilling speed, and reductions in non-productive time during use in 37 commercial wells.

AlgaVia: In 2014, we launched our microalgae food ingredients business under the AlgaVia brand name. The lipid and protein powders, as well as our high oleic algae oil, are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in the US and have received “No Questions” letters from the FDA.

Partner developments: In 2014, we made our first deliveries under a 10k MT supply agreement and extended our Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with Unilever; expanded our JDA and established key terms for a five year supply agreement targeting up to 10k MT/year with AkzoNobel; partnered with Versalis to commercialize Encapso; and met all JDA targets with Mitsui.


PerkinElmer launches Adulterant Screen software

PerkinElmer launches Adulterant Screen software

PerkinElmer Inc., a global leader focused on improving the health and safety of people and the environment, announced the launch of its Adulterant Screen™ software. This automated solution can help food industry professionals evaluate the integrity of food ingredients to guard against existing and potential food adulteration threats. 
Adulterant Screen software, when paired with PerkinElmer’s Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) and Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy instruments, creates a unique, combined hardware and software system that can confirm authenticity and perform nutritional analysis in a single step. 
“Food quality professionals face an increasing number of risks related to their ingredients which need to be continually screened for known contaminants as well as unknown contaminants that may be unsafe substitutions,” said Jon DiVincenzo, president, environmental health, PerkinElmer. “We are committed to delivering advanced detection solutions to help our global customers address increasingly complex industry regulations related to food quality control and safety in the supply chain.” 
Adulterant Screen software performs rapid, targeted and non-targeted screening for several types of adulterants. Its customized set-up enables fast, effective implementation without lengthy calibrations. Its simple and intuitive green light/red light, “pass/fail” results system enables easy implementation, regardless of the knowledge level of its users. 

For more details on the Adulterant Screen software, please click here. 
PerkinElmer also offers the DairyGuard™ milk powder analyzer, a near infrared (NIR) spectrometer specifically developed for food suppliers and manufacturers. The DairyGuard analyzer is the only system available that tests for unknown adulterants as well as known compounds. 

DSTest Laboratories joins Purdue Research Park

DSTest Laboratories joins Purdue Research Park

Manufacturers and consumers of dietary supplements could benefit from the work of a startup that verifies the healthy activity of those products.

DSTest Laboratories LLC, based in Purdue Research Park of Indianapolis, was founded in 2014 by Daniel Sliva, Ph.D., who has more than 20 years of experience in academic research in evaluating dietary supplements. The company can certify manufacturers' claims of their products' health-promoting traits.

"Manufacturers are allowed by law to make health claims, structure/function claims, and nutrient claims about their products. Some claims may link a food substance with a health-related condition, list the intended benefits of using it or list the amount of a nutrient or dietary substance in a product," he said. "There is a scarcity of functional testing to evaluate the real biological activity of these products. Not all natural compounds of the same origin have the same activity. More proper and rigorous scientific testing is necessary, which is the purpose of DSTest Laboratories."

The company uses several biological assays to evaluate the various health-promoting properties of nutraceuticals and dietary supplements. It also uses liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, a technique that can separate, detect and identify multiple chemicals in complex mixtures, to develop its own technology that has been successfully used to identify molecules in biological samples.

"We provide our services to manufacturers and distributors of nutritional ingredients and producers of nutraceuticals and dietary supplements," Sliva said. "Our goal is to help produce high-quality products with evaluated, certified biological activity that leads to consumer satisfaction."

Sliva will attend the Ingredient Marketplace 2015 April 7 to 9 in Orlando, Fla.


Pharmachem extends Phase 2 brand with DietSpice

Pharmachem extends Phase 2 brand with DietSpice

DietSpice, new from Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., the maker of Phase 2 Carb Controller, adds a new dimension to the growing category of functional foods. DietSpice is formulated to help people lose weight literally while they eat, in the form of delicious functional seasonings that are sprinkled atop or mixed into healthy meals.

"There are many people who balk at swallowing more pills to derive health benefits or specific objectives, and for those who want the benefits of reduced carbohydrate absorption, DietSpice was formulated to provide that benefit in a more wholesomely appealing way," explains Mitch Skop, senior director of new product development for Pharmachem.

“Because of its versatility, we think our manufacturing customers will readily see the marketing advantages of this new delivery system for Phase 2. It’s also a concept that is so easy for consumers to understand: use the tasty seasoning in their foods, and the seasonings will immediately start going to work. Plus, there is definitely a 'yum' factor, which of course is a priority for consumers."

Skop adds that most consumers who commit themselves to healthier eating are unwilling to sacrifice the satisfaction of eating tasty, substantive food. Whether it's pasta, potatoes, rice, breads or cereals, DietSpice adds popular flavors—Italian, Asian, Butter & Spice, and Cinnamon Sweetener—with the benefits of Phase 2, an ingredient with more than a dozen human clinical trials demonstrating weight loss benefits.

"There are numerous food-by-mail programs, various restrictive diets, and most restaurants have a smattering of healthier, lower-calorie fare," Skop observes. "People are willfully trying many of these—which do contain carbohydrates—in their attempts to lose weight. During their weight-loss process, adding DietSpice to any of these foods will help them achieve their goals—and remain satisfied."

As part of the lengthy R&D process that led to DietSpice, Pharmachem subjected Phase 2 to third-party sensory evaluations by the Tragon Corp. Testing found that the ingredient does not affect the taste or texture of foods in which it was added, including baked goods.

"This evaluation was significant as it shows that Phase 2 is a "food-friendly" material; viable in a wide range of packaged and prepared foods, and therefore, with the ability to open up a whole new "carb-conscious" food sector.

As a functional seasoning, DietSpice provides numerous flexible packaging options, from individual stickpacks—to boxes of assorted flavors—to actually incorporating it into frozen foods. Each stickpack contains a 1,000 mg of Phase 2, a dosage shown in studies to reduce starch absorption and aid in weight loss.

A recent placebo-controlled 12-week study, published in the journal Obesity, showed that from as early as week four, subjects who took the supplement lost significantly more weight than their placebo counterparts. The same trend was observed in the body fat mass measurements: The Phase 2 group showed a significantly more marked reduction compared with the placebo group at weeks four, eight and 12. The authors concluded that the body weight reduction stemmed from loss of fat mass, not muscle mass.

A 2010 meta-analysis conducted by J. Udani et al, concluded that in totality, studies performed with Phase 2 on people who were overweight or obese indicate that it reduces the rate of absorption of carbohydrates, thereby reducing the GI of foods. The evidence also indicates that Phase 2 promotes weight loss when taken concurrently with meals containing carbohydrates.

"DietSpice has been formulated to be a tasty, easy-to-use enhancement for foods so that consumers are indeed taking the supplement concurrently with meals," Skop says.



BI hires food science engineer to bolster formulation expertise

BI hires food science engineer to bolster formulation expertise

BI Nutraceuticals announced that Michael Wagner has joined the company as a food science engineer. In this role, Wagner will assist in providing solutions for complex functional food formulation challenges faced by BI’s customer base and will help support the company’s continued expansion in the food and beverage industry.

Wagner comes to BI with a Ph.D. from the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. His research focused on the application of supercritical carbon dioxide in food systems including extraction, encapsulation, enzyme inactivation and extrusion. He has authored several published studies and has one patent application. Michael received his B.S. from Cornell University in Food Science in 2009 and previously held a product development internship with Reckitt Benckiser.

CHS soy ingredients now Non-GMO Project Verified

CHS soy ingredients now Non-GMO Project Verified

CHS Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSCP, CHSCO, CHSCN, CHSCM, CHSCL), North America's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, announced that a variety of its soy ingredients are now Non-GMO Project Verified by the Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products.

CHS offers a complete line of soy ingredients available as both GMO and non-GMO. The CHS products that have earned non-GMO verification include: CHS soybean salad oil, CHS crude soybean oil, CHS soybean meal, Honeysoy® soy flour, and Honeysoy® soy flakes.

"CHS pursued non-GMO verification status to serve our customers who want ingredients that satisfy these criteria," says Kara VanKleek, CHS marketing director, Processing and Food Ingredients. "As a farmer-owned company, CHS sources soybeans directly from growers, allowing traceability. These soybeans are then processed at U.S. company-owned facilities into a range of GMO and non-GMO soy ingredients, from oil to flour to concentrates and isolates."

VanKleek says while the Non-GMO Project verified status involves an extensive process, CHS was committed to obtaining the industry seal to meet customer specifications. "CHS is always looking for ways to help its customers find the right soy oil and protein solutions. Non-GMO verification helps us meet the needs of customers, whether they run large volumes or if their operations are small and growing."