Novel Ingredient secures big investment

Novel Ingredient secures big investment

In partnership with management, GenNx360 Capital Partners, a New York–based private equity fund investing in middle market industrial and business services companies, announced its investment in Novel Ingredient Services, a leading specialty nutraceutical ingredient services supplier to the health and wellness industry. Headquartered in West Caldwell, N.J., Novel was founded in 1995 and serves more than 400 customers in multiple product segments including sports nutrition, herbs and botanicals, meal replacement, and specialty supplements. The company is able to leverage its global base of over 250 supply relationships to provide innovative custom, proprietary and manufactured ingredient solutions for its customers. The transaction represents the second investment for GenNx360 Capital Partners' Fund II. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Novel has experienced significant growth and has identified the opportunity to expand its services and capabilities to both its existing markets and complementary sectors such as cosmetics and food and beverage. "This partnership with GenNx360 reflects our strategic vision. GenNx360's significant experience growing companies will be a valuable asset to our management and help us immensely in our continued growth efforts," said Novel's chairman, Bob Green. As part of this, Novel will be expanding into a new, world-class facility in 2014.

"Bob Green and his team have built a very impressive organization. We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Novel as the company embarks on the next phase of its strategy to grow its leadership position in the nutraceutical field while increasing its footprint in adjacent markets," said Monty Yort, the GenNx360 managing partner who led the transaction.  


How to avoid botanical adulteration

How to avoid botanical adulteration

Adulteration is a constant challenge for the dietary supplement industry. In order to maintain consumer loyalty, manufacturers need to rely on a strong partner that has complete control over all aspects of the ingredient production process.  

Recent publications have cast doubt on the reliability and authenticity of botanical ingredients used in food supplements. Because consumers’ health and trust depend on the quality of these ingredients, choosing a manufacturer who offers premium plant-based ingredients, both in terms of efficacy and quality, is of paramount importance. 

Step 1: A good ingredient starts at the source with high quality raw materials
Not all ingredient manufacturers are ready to roll up their sleeves and go down to the field to meet with farmers. “At Naturex, we believe that providing the right ingredient starts by selecting a reliable partner who watches carefully over the raw material and respects the environment,” said Serge Sabrier, chief procurement officer and president of the Sustainability Committee. To get closer to its partners, the company has implemented eight local purchasing offices all around the world. These hubs allow Naturex agronomists to exchange with local people about their good agricultural and collection practices (GACP) and to share technical advice to achieve the best yields. By thoroughly assessing its suppliers and auditing them on a regular basis, the company is developing a full traceability system from field to extract. 
Step 2: Mastering quality control throughout the process
From the moment raw materials arrive at the factory until the finished products are ready for dispatch, ingredients undergo a series of tests and analyses at key phases of the production process. Naturex is able to perform more than 350 different methods of analysis from macro/micro authentication based on assessment at macroscopic levels by botanists to phytochemical levels involving sophisticated methods like high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and gas chromatography (GC). 

Besides mastering the complete set of analyses, the core expertise of Naturex’s scientists is knowing exactly which type of test is suitable for each botanical. “We use methods at the cutting edge of technology, and our team of experts helps to identify reliable and replicable methods of analysis. These methods are used as references by highly respected organizations that set the standards for plants and dietary supplements,” said Antoine Bily, R&D director. In 2013, Naturex contributed to setting the specifications and methods of analysis of the new USP approved standards for rosemary extracts.
Step 3: Whole program of certifications to guarantee the quality of ingredients
Naturex has implemented and developed a quality assurance system in each of its 15 factories worldwide. All our sites producing and shipping products are certified according to one of the following GMP standards: Global Food Safety Initiative Scheme (FSSC 22000, BRC, IFS), NSF International standard for dietary supplements or GMP (ICH Q7A) according to the pharmaceutical guidelines. This effective quality system certified by independent certification organizations guarantees full traceability throughout the chain and contributes to managing the risk of cross-contamination. 
Step 4: Industrial expertise to ensure consistency and efficacy all year long
“Each botanical has its particularity and changes throughout the year depending on weather conditions and soil quality, for example,” explained Bily. Naturex’s expertise and experience lies in its thorough knowledge of botanical fingerprinting and its incorporation in the matrices of finished products. The company has built a solid reputation in terms of botanical identification and a strong background in plant science. For example, Naturex has developed an exclusive method for distinguishing between Asian and U.S. black cohosh rhizomes. The method is still widely used in the industry to verify the identity of the plant. 
Relying on human expertise and implementing rigorous technical methods are two pillars of Naturex’s commitment to ensuring high quality and traceability throughout the process. The complementarity between continuous quality management and periodic controls is also an important part of a successful quality program. With global sourcing and many years of industrial experience, Naturex is committed to offering its clients safe, value–added ingredients.


Omega-3 filet mignon?

A Colorado entrepreneur is hoping the public will help fund his quest to bring them healthier hamburgers.

Seven years ago, Don Van Pelt Smith, an entrepreuner from Aspen, wondered whether feeding cattle the same kind of algae eaten by fish would result in meat richer in omega-3 fatty acids. He had algae in mind, having grown it to product biofuels. Smith worked with two major universities on small-scale tests that suggest that it can, according to the Associated Press. Apparently, cattle don’t mind if their cud’s a little fishy.

Smith’s Omega3Beef has more DHA and EPA than mahi mahi, at 140 mg per serving, according to his website. “We’re on a mission to evolve the cattle industry, keeping the same wonderful taste of traditional beef, but making it healthy for our hearts. Same taste… better health,” says the site.

Next, Smith, and Colorado State University cattle-nutrition experts Shawn Archibeque, who has been testing the Omega3Beef, want to fund a larger study and win approval from the Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Smiths’ novel idea goes further back to the source than other recent attempts at adding omega-3’s to popular foods. Last year, German researchers developed a way to add omega-3’s to sausages, in attempt to appeal to Germans, who don’t eat enough fish.

In March, Smith launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 million for large-scale testing. So far, he’s raised $400,000, though some of the money came from a private investor.

Contributers to the crowd-sourced cattle drive will receive healthy steaks and burger patties. Last year, German researchers developed a process for adding omega-3 fatty acids to sausages, in attempt to appeal to Germans, who don’t eat enough fish.

New ways to crank up curcumin

For those of us with Panang curry addictions, we can never get enough curcumin - the compound in the curry key turmeric, that’s become an ingredient superstar. Functionally speaking, however, the bioavailability of the compound can be a challenge. Researchers are developing new ways to increase the power of curcumin, according to a review of recent research written by Amy C. Keller, PhD, published in the March edition of the American Botanical Council’s HerbClip.

From anti-inflammatory to antidepressant, curcumin packs as many suggested health benefits as a Bollywood hit has musical numbers. “Limited uptake and rapid metabolism have been problematic to the larger therapeutic potential of curcumin use,” writes Keller. She examined a study published in the January issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research designed to crank up the bioavailability of the root.

Researchers conducted a single-blind, crossover study to compare the bioavailability of native curcumin versus the the bioavailability of curcumin encapsulized in circular, water-soluble aggregates (micellation) and micronized (reduced partical size) curcumin. Twenty-three healthy, male and female subjects between the ages of 19 and 28 years were studied. The scientists measured their blood and urine using high-performance liquid chromatography.

“Both preparations greatly increased bioavailable curcumin, DMC (demethoxycurcumin), and BDMC (bisdemethoxycurcumin) over native curcumin, with the micelle preparation being the most effective,” wrote Keller. “The preparations will ultimately assist with the efficacy of curcumin use for many health conditions,” she wrote, noting that future studies should focus on their adverse side effects as well. Those included nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, stomacheache and regurgitation.

Expo West 2014 editor's picks: Natural living

While not the flashiest corner of Expo West, the natural living aisles at the show nonetheless contained some impressive offerings. These six companies make use of a mind-blowing array of sustainable materials and ingredients and make strides in eliminating harsh chemicals while still getting the job done.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Flexitarian eating about more than food choices

Flexitarian eating about more than food choices

More and more research extols plant-based eating for better health. For example, one 2013 trial found that vegetarians are 32 percent less likely to develop heart disease than meat eaters. Other studies have shown that even slightly reducing meat intake can improve cholesterol markers, dampen chronic inflammation and slash type 2 diabetes risk. Findings like these are prompting many consumers to adopt flexitarian diets, meaning they eat mostly plant-based foods but still enjoy meat once in a while. Peter Berley, culinary instructor and author of The Flexitarian Table (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), believes that flexitarianism joyfully balances eating, cooking and, yes, love. Here, he gives us the lowdown and explains how natural retailers can help promote this style of eating.

Natural Foods Merchandiser: What intrigues you about flexitarianism?

Peter Berley: Although I worked at a vegan restaurant for years, I’ve never been vegetarian or vegan. I don’t see food that way. Instead, I explore how food relates to our world and how we like to eat. To me, flexitarian eating means preparing and eating foods the way we used to.

NFM: Why does the method matter?

PB: Traditionally prepared foods have a natural intelligence that contributes to well-being. Consider bread baking, for instance. For most of human history, bread was fermented by wild yeast in the air. Rather than the rapid rising that commercial yeast induces in modern bread, wild yeast slowly leavens dough, breaking down harsh enzymes in grains, promoting healthy bacteria growth and optimizing vitamins and minerals. Traditional bread baking is an art that develops these benefits. Other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, cheese and yogurt produce similar effects. It’s important to preserve these cooking techniques.

NFM: How do you encourage mindful eating?

PB: In my culinary studio north of New York City, my students and I cook with produce from my garden, meat and raw milk from local farms and fish from the surrounding waters. We make our own cheese, sauerkraut and kimchi. Although we cook meat and seafood, [the recipes and classes are] largely plant based. I like to involve people in the food-making process and to spread the joy of appreciative eating.

NFM: Why do you think that flexitarian eating is gaining traction?

PB: Because it’s a way of eating that praises food quality and seasonality. Flexitarian means nourishing others. Even if your friends and family eat differently than you do, you can show them you care. Loving food really means loving people. Flexitarian eating is about accepting differences and creating community.

NFM: How can natural retailers make flexitarianism easier for shoppers?

PB: Education is key. Lots of natural stores offer classes on how to make use of seasonal ingredients—such as tutorials on canning or fermenting cabbage at home. Learning is really the essence of grassroots change. Natural stores help spread and inspire this knowledge.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

By the numbers: Children have big buying power

By the numbers: Children have big buying power

Major food brands rely on children’s superhuman “pester power” to push products into family grocery carts. This is why they spend significant money to develop products and advertising that target young influencers. The numbers below show just how much impact these small consumers have.

3.5: Percentage of the $639 billion food and beverage market occupied by children’s products in 2013

7: Categories most targeted to youth: dairy, snacks, frozen food, beverages, cereal, shelf-stable meals and produce

4.4: Percentage growth of youth foods and beverages, outpacing the traditional 2.9 percent rate in the same categories  

$1.79 billion: Amount major food companies spent marketing to young
consumers in 2009

$29.8 billion: Estimated value the children’s food market will reach in 2018, up from 2013’s $23.2 billion

47: Number of products MOM’s Organic Market removed from its shelves when it chose in 2013 to ban marketing to children in its stores

Sources: MOM's Organic Market, Packaged Facts, Federal Trade Commission

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Secret Shopper: How to answer customer questions about homeopathic remedies

Secret Shopper: How to answer customer questions about homeopathic remedies

How does homeopathic allergy medicine work?

Store: Rather than masking allergy symptoms, homeopathic remedies essentially train the body to fight off allergens by itself. You take a very small amount of a certain plant, and that preps your body to handle exposures to allergens in the future.

Natural Foods Merchandiser: Should I take it before feeling symptoms to build up my body’s immune response?

Store: No, because you don’t want to be taking this—or any—medication for no reason. You wait until symptoms arise. The hope is that, after taking the medicine, those symptoms will not only be gone but will not show up again.

How did this retailer do?

Our expert educator: Peter Borregard, certified homeopath practitioner at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in Berkeley, Calif.

The retailer’s response to the first question wasn’t bad, depending on the type of treatment she was recommending. Many homeopathic allergy formulas are not just plants. Rather, they are combination remedies, which are mixtures of individual plant, mineral and animal remedies that have been shown to relieve acute symptoms of allergies, such as itchy eyes or sneezing.

The homeopathic preparations that the retailer was referring to are more about introducing very dilute versions of an allergen into the system to promote tolerance (like the region-specific solutions from Allergena). They won’t treat symptoms per se, but will act like allergy shots in reducing intolerance for the long-term. 

As for her response to the second question, if someone knows she is hitting the allergy season or will be exposed to allergens, I’d suggest she start the remedy two or three days ahead of the likely exposure. I would recommend using either type of homeopathic remedy prophylactically, but using the Allergena ahead of time is especially helpful. I’d also suggest some form of constitutional treatment [that addresses overall health rather than a specific need] if recurring allergies—or other symptoms—are in the picture.

California's drought slowly edges into grocery aisles and packaged products

Normally verdant pastures baked to brown and peaks absent their usual caps of snow have become well-publicized signs of California’s historic drought conditions. In an effort to provide relief to farmers in the state that produces the highest value of agricultural production, the federal government has stepped up with aid packages and loan programs. And in an effort to cut organic farmers a break, the United States Department of Agriculture approved a temporary exemption from the National Organic Program’s grazing requirements. Under the temporary variance, organic farmers who would normally be required to graze their animals during February and March were allowed to feed their animals organic feed instead.  

It’s a move that led to media reports questioning whether the reduced time cows may spend munching on fresh grass means the organic meat and dairy they produce won't really be the same. Organic advocates, meanwhile, have jumped in to defend the move as a necessary measure built into the National Organic Program that in no way sacrifices the certification’s integrity and serves to preserve already stressed pasture lands.It's just one example of how the drought has simultaneously pulled farmers into the media spotlight and saddled them with worries about increasing feed prices and an uncertain water outlook.

But one step up the production chain, California retailers and manufacturers say the drought’s direct impacts to their business have been more muted up to now.

Dave Clark, produce buyer at Sonoma Market in Sonoma, Calif., said the local producers he works with get most of their water from wells, which have kept pumping throughout the drought. If the state’s farmers don’t receive enough irrigation water this spring then there’s a risk that perennial crops like artichokes and asparagus could take a hit next year, Clark said. Fruit trees could also begin losing their fruit before it’s ripe if they become too stressed this spring, but none of those worst-case scenarios are a given at this point, he said.

Scott Meroney, the store’s meat department manager described a bleaker scene, with reports of local producers selling their animals due to high costs and grass-fed cattle struggling to fill out like usual. But despite the concern "the true fallout is still yet to be seen," he said.

On the sweet side of the industry, Neal Gottlieb founder of Three Twins Ice Cream said he recently saw a small bump in milk and cream prices but said there’s more concern about what will happen to future prices if the cows eat themselves out of pasture this spring and have to go back on feed for the rest of the season. The Southern California Geographic Coordination Center has already warned that because moisture arrived to the state so late this year, it may spur only minimal grass and shrub growth this spring. Sonoma County dairy processor Clover Stornetta also has  seen its farmers’ costs increase, but the prices it currently pays farmers have so far have covered that rise, President Marcus Benedetti said.

The company threw its support behind the National Organic Program grazing variance as a necessary measure to help farmers weather a historic drought, Benedetti said.  

“In our area from October through April (the farmers) can count on grazing on green grass,” he said. “But when the grass wasn’t green for big chunk of time, they had to buy organic feed and that definitely impacted their bottom line.”

Gottlieb and Benedetti said they haven’t seen and aren’t concerned about impacts to the quality of the finished product if cows were being fed more organic feed versus fresh grass from pasture during the past two months.

“The cows go through different periods of being fed feed and periods of them grazing, I’m not concerned as long as they’re fed organic feed,” Gottlieb said.