New Hope Network is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Company News

Rexim Fizzes It Up
Rexim SA, a partner with Degussa in Germany, has restructured its sales organisation to better accommodate US customers. Rexim, a leading producer of amino acids for nutritional applications, will work closely with Degussa's Fine Chemicals in the US and Seltzer Chemicals, a distributor of nutritional ingredients for more than 20 years. Seltzer has been appointed Rexim's exclusive US distributor for most of its food-grade amino acids and their derivatives.

BAST and Fortitech Get Fortified
US-based Fortitech and BASF in Germany have entered into a joint venture for the manufacture, marketing and sales of human nutrition premix products. This builds on an existing North American alliance created between the two companies last year. Under this agreement, BASF will transfer its premix customers in the EU, Asia, South America and Africa to Fortitech, who will assume ownership of BASF's premix manufacturing facilities in Denmark and Malaysia. BASF will become the primary supplier of nutritional ingredients to Fortitech.

DSM Hits Milestone
In the last year, DSM filed more patent applications in the EU than any other company, according to the European Patent Office. Of the 305 patent applications filed, 154 were related to biotechnology. Now celebrating its centennial year, DSM has been named Royal DSM by the royal commissioner for Limburg, Netherlands.

Weaver Named VP
Proliant Inc. of Iowa has promoted Eric Weaver, PhD, to vice president of the health division, which is focused on the development and marketing of new bioactive ingredient technologies. Weaver joined Proliant in 1994 as a nutritionist in technical services and served as business unit manager and director of the health division.

Iowa Sweetens Research Pot
The Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) has awarded $600,000 to Kemin Foods to expand research and development of products focused on women's health, diabetes and weight control. The IDED is awarding companies that focus on life sciences.

Delicious Living

Rethinking The Lawn: One Man's Kentucky Blue Is Another Man's Monoculture

What's the best way for homeowners to incorporate permaculture principles at home? "Get your lawn off drugs, water and regular haircuts," jokes permaculture instructor Marian Farrior. More seriously, she explains that it's crazy to keep feeding turf lawns a steady diet of fertilizer and pesticide, using precious groundwater to keep lawns artificially lush and burning fossil fuels to keep them manicured.

Farmer Greg David concurs. "When someone asks me, 'What can I do about dandelions or creeping Charlie in my lawn?' I tell them, 'learn to appreciate it.'" David points out that creeping Charlie makes a great ground cover. "It attracts myriad predatory and pollinating insects early in the year when there is little else for them to eat. It smells good when you walk on it. It's hardy. What more does a lawn need?" As for dandelions, David explains that their deep tap roots bring up minerals and open up the soil to worms and other biota. "Plus, they're an edible vegetable and produce pretty flowers," he adds.

Going a step further, adventurous suburbanites can devote a small area of their yard to native plants. First, Farrior recommends sheet mulching to kill a section of existing lawn. Once it decomposes, it's time to plant native grasses, flowers and shrubs. (Check with your local chapter of The Nature Conservancy (www.nature.org) or Wild Ones (www.for-wild.org) to ask where they recommend getting local genotypes.) Farrior cautions that it takes several years to establish a site. But once it takes hold, it requires very little maintenance and is surprisingly beautiful and diverse. If you live in an arid region, such as the southwestern United States, consider transitioning part of your lawn to xeriscape plantings, which require no artificial watering.

And for the pièce de résistance, add a bird bath. By attracting wildlife and insects, it will help your yard take a giant step away from monoculture and toward thriving natural diversity. "When the birds come and drink there, they'll fertilize your garden in the process," Farrior says. Be forewarned, though. Next thing you know, you'll be wanting a flock of chickens.

­B.L.



Fine Dining For Pets

Ingredients suppliers and product developers can no longer afford to ignore the fortified pet food and supplements market. Shane Starling investigates opportunities in the booming pet care market

If the functional food and nutraceutical industry is driven by that human desire for greater health and well-being, it is only natural to want the same for our cherished pets.

No longer content to feed furry friends food that does little more than meet their caloric needs, pet owners' dietary concerns are driving a proliferation of functional pet foods and supplements designed to perform functions as varied as improving the sheen of an animal's coat, to combating eye degeneration and prolonging its lifespan. This is not to mention catering to its age, its sex, its size, whether or not it is pregnant and the amount of exercise it gets.

"Consumers are seeing the adverts on television; for example, a cat food claiming bone-health benefits, and then suddenly every pet food manufacturer is doing something for bone health," says Kaare Axelson, marketing director at UK-based ingredients supplier, Buckton Scott Group. "The pet food manufacturers then add the ingredient to all their products, and in this way the market [for functional pet foods] keeps getting bigger and bigger."

Bigger indeed. According to the UK-based Pet Food Manufacturers' Association, UK sales of cat, dog and bird foods were estimated at around $2.2 billion in 2001, while US cat and dog food sales in the same period topped $11 billion, according to the US-based Pet Food Institute. The functional slice of this pie is expanding.

Leverage R & D
For ingredients suppliers, the burgeoning functional pet food and nutraceuticals (shall we call them petraceuticals?) market is providing a lucrative means of leveraging research and development they might otherwise have carried out exclusively on ingredients for the human market. Other ingredients have been specifically designed for the animal world in the form of feed, or for pets themselves—usually dogs, cats, birds and horses.

According to Niall McStay, national sales manager at BASF in New Jersey, ingredients suppliers cannot afford to ignore the fortified pet food and supplements market.

"As people become more affluent, their pets become much more of a family member," he observes. "People have moved from feeding their pets table scraps to providing them with the best-quality food they can get their hands on. For this reason, the demand for nutritious pet foods that have recognition and visibility with pet owners has never been greater."

For BASF, this translates into greater demand for its range of antioxidants and vitamins. "We have seen that pet owners are attracted to foods with messages related to high levels of antioxidant vitamins. This has led to a trend in which pet food manufacturers are increasing their fortification levels of vitamins like A, C and E and ingredients like beta-carotene. Many functional food ingredients that have attracted attention on the human side have found their way into pet foods."

Minnesota-based Cargill Health and Food Technologies has been similarly enthused by the buoyant market. "We are surprised but encouraged by the fact that pet food companies are interested in adding more value to their pet food products in the same way that food companies have done for consumers," says Director of Sales and Marketing Steve Snyder. "Of particular interest to us is joint health, and we are doing a good trade in ingredients such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine."

Other ingredients that are increasingly finding their way into pet foods include pre- and probiotics, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), lutein, hypoallergenics, sterol esters and isoflavones.

Many of these ingredients have clinical backing, but it does not necessarily follow that all ingredients proven effective in the human field will perform as effectively among pets.

"The question is: Are you taking consumer nutrients and putting them in pet foods, or are you are putting research resources directed specifically toward the pet food segment?" Snyder asks rhetorically. "Almost all functional foods and supplements designed for humans have undergone testing on animals at one point or another, but that does not necessarily mean that research is relevant for companion animals. The problem is, this kind of research isn't cheap and may increase the cost of the pet food nutrients," he adds.

British pet food industry consultant Terry Plant agrees. "When breakthroughs are made with human foods, then obviously people are quickly looking to see whether it works in the pet sector. The human food area is more developed because there are more companies involved and there is more academic research available, whereas research on pets is few and far between."

In the UK, this problem is compounded by the five principle veterinarian schools concentrating their research efforts on livestock and horses.

In Plant's view, the onus is on ingredients suppliers and pet food manufacturers to conduct their own research. "If a company is working ethically, it should have done sufficient feeding studies to demonstrate the alleged benefits of feeding that species with that particular product." Some pet food manufacturers run their own in-house evaluation programmes, he notes.

Others, like British niche pet food producer Denes Natural Pet Care Ltd., consider themselves too small to be engaging in extensive scientific research."We don't have a big technical department, but obviously we take note of the science that is being carried out," says spokesperson Jill Winch. For this reason, the company takes a conservative position when it comes to fortification, preferring to sell 'medicinal' products in the form of supplements. "We do add herbs to our foods, which helps with good health, but it's not medicinal in any way because the herbal quantities are too low. They can help with aroma and taste rather than targeting specific conditions," she continues. Dandelion leaf, parsley and garlic are some of the ingredients Denes adds to its foods.

When formulating foods, manufacturers need to remember that not all pets are the same—what may be good for Fido may not be so good for Felix. "Cats don't have a very high turnover of protein compared to dogs because they are less active," says Axelson. "So there are certain things you can give to dogs that you couldn't give to cats. Acids, by way of example, don't tend to go too well in cat food."

Custom Blends Fetch Profits
The benefits of sound research go beyond validating the safety and efficacy of pet foods and their ingredients. There is a potential marketing boon as well. Consumers have never been more interested in, nor more skeptical of, the contents of the products they buy, whether for themselves or for their pets. With this in mind, the provision of solid science is often the affirmation they are looking for when choosing between products, and research has shown that more and more consumers are willing to pay a price premium for the conscience-easing knowledge they are feeding their pet food that does exactly what it says on the label.

McStay says: "The companies that have done best are those that are able to back up their marketing messages with sound research—which means trials on the animals in question. Consumers will definitely pay for what they see as a better product."

Like humans, pets are notoriously fussy—they like their food to taste good, too.
Although it is well and good to fill a pet food with nutritional goodies and to sell a product on the basis of its disease-prevention and therapeutic benefits, pets, like humans, like their food to taste good. This can be a challenge for food formulators, because many functional ingredients are far from taste-neutral, and the manner in which they interact with other ingredients present in a food can be volatile. (Up to 30 minerals, herbs and amino acids are in a typical pet food.)

For this reason, companies like BASF have tailored their operations to meet the peculiar needs of the pet food industry. "Our forte is providing custom-blended premixes," McStay says. "These contain a range of nutrients, primarily vitamins, but also other functional ingredients like beta-carotene that pet food manufacturers specify and we customise into a mix."

Such customisation has assisted BASF's exporting ambitions. "The pet food industry is highly developed in the US. We have access not only to very good nutrient technology, but also low-cost and high-quality ingredients," McStay points out. "So the US has been good at taking that technology and exporting it. US producers have been there to fill a worldwide need, and we have seen healthy ingredient demand growth in Asia, South America and Europe."

Products designed to meet a pets age-specific needs is another growth area. According to Anthony Almada, a nutrition and exercise biochemist and founder of California-based industry consultancy IMAGInutrition, this market reflects the increased understanding pet owners have of their animal companions' needs.

"Foods now are tailored to the life-stage of an animal," he says. "For instance, older dogs do not need as many calories. They are less active and require less protein. So we can boost calcium to help the bones. This is the thinking behind many pet foods now."

And it's not just age. "Segmentation of the market is becoming more prevalent," says Axelson. "Take dogs. You have small dogs, medium, large. You have puppies, young dogs and old dogs. There are sporting dogs, working dogs, domestic dogs. All have peculiar needs and now there are products to meet these needs."

Capitalising On Trends
With the proliferation of ingredients and products, there are many new bonds forged between pet food manufacturers and ingredients suppliers. "Talking to food manufacturers has given us many insights into understanding the pet food market, [especially] the fact that consumers think about their pets in the same way they think about their own health," says Snyder.

Such bonds are no doubt helping manufacturers get it right when it comes to pet supplements, a small but growing market sector ($26 million in the US in 2001, according to Mintel International Group Ltd., offices in London and Chicago).

"There are many health problems that can be avoided by adding supplements to pet food," Axelson says, noting that pet owners are increasingly willing to add nutrients to prepackaged pet foods, something that doesn't bother a manufacturer like Denes. "We like to separate the medicinal products from our food products anyway," says Winch. "We have a range of herbal medicines and supplements, and we think it is better for those to be administered separately rather than included in food because the dosages can be more closely monitored and can be tailored to the individual animal."

Another trend is being driven by consumer desire for convenience. Single-serve pouches of dry foods are increasingly in vogue with consumers who don't want their kitchen smelling of pet food or half-empty cans left in the fridge.

Formulating dry foods brings its own unique dilemmas. "Dry products are ex-truded products, so pet food manufacturers have to think about how the various ingredients perform after they have been heated and extruded," says McStay.

And of course, under most legislatures, pet foods labels cannot have claims to prevent, treat or cure any ailment a pet may have.

Not yet, anyway.

Buckton Scott Group: www.buckton.com

Pet Foods Mfr's Assoc: www.pfma.com

Pet Food Institute: www.petfoodinstitute.org

BASF: www.basf.com

Cargill: www.cargill.com

Denes Natural Pet Care: www.denes.com

Imaginutrition: www.imaginutrition.com

Mintel: www.mintel.com

The New EU Legislation: How To Navigate The Landscape

The EU Directive on Food Supplements passed into law recently, and Directives on fortified foods and health claims will follow. Reporting from Brussels, regulatory expert Stefanie Geiser explains Europe's new legislative environment and highlights its significance for the industry.

Over the past 10 years, manufacturers and distributors of food supplements and functional foods have been faced with a multitude of barriers to trade and unpredictable changes in the regulatory environment for marketing their products in Europe. While marketing problems in the past have revolved around the divergence of national legislation, increased EU momentum toward the creation of a single European market in nutritional products has created an environment in which companies need to adapt their products to a combination of national and EU rules.

This year's adoption of the EU Directive on Food Supplements has been the most significant regulatory change at the EU level so far. Although the Directive at this stage deals with only vitamins and minerals, it establishes a range of general principles and labelling requirements that will affect food supplement products containing other ingredients. It will also have a significant influence over future legislation related to fortified and functional foods. A draft proposal for an EU regulation on nutrition, functional and health claims was published in June 2002. By winter, the European Commission is expected to develop a revised version of its proposal for a draft Directive on the addition of nutrients to foods.

The new EU legislation will affect the marketing of products within the European market in three major ways:

  1. New EU labelling rules for all food supplements. These include specific labelling statements (such as the requirement to mention the word 'food supplement' on the label); compulsory warning statements (e.g., storing out of reach of children); and specific nutrition labelling rules.

  2. Harmonised EU rules on the type of vitamin and mineral substances that may be used. These were formerly regulated at national levels. The Directive sets out a positive list of 112 vitamin and mineral substances that may be used in all EU member states. Other vitamin and mineral substances are not permitted unless both a safety dossier for EU approval is submitted to the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) within the next three years and, until EU approval is granted, a member state has provided a national exemption for their use, which is limited to a maximum of seven years.

  3. Potential changes in national notification/registration systems. The Directive sets out an option for member states to introduce or maintain the requirement for product notification.

The timing for these changes is as follows:

  • As of July 2003, products meeting the above-mentioned labelling and compositional rules will be permitted. Member states are therefore requested to implement the EU Directive into national law by this date.

  • By July 2005, all products need to follow the new labelling rules and may contain only listed vitamin and mineral substances or those for which a national exemption has been provided.

  • Food supplement ingredients other than vitamins and minerals will continue to be subject to national rules. A positive list of other ingredients is likely to be drafted by the European Commission at a later stage and then included in the EU Directive.

  • In relation to health claims and fortified/functional food products, no changes are expected at the EU level within the next two to three years, because EU rules are still in the drafting process. At this stage, at least, the national divergences between European countries will remain.

What Does It All Mean?
The challenges facing companies over the next three years relate principally to the marketing of food supplements.

All food supplement products on the EU market will need to be relabelled to accord with the new EU rules, and reformulation will be required for those products containing nonlisted vitamins and minerals (except if these are in the EU approval process within the next three years). Companies should therefore submit a safety dossier for nonlisted vitamin and mineral substances to the SCF as soon as possible to keep open the possibility of gaining national exemptions for their use. The exemption is good for seven years, if no EU approval is granted in the meantime.

With the maximum limits for vitamins and minerals not yet established, reformulation and relabelling issues remain. But these limits are next up for resolution within the EU Directive. The adoption of these levels is certain to be controversial, with pressure coming from member states for either higher or lower levels. Should the Commission adopt maximum limits within the next one to three years, companies using vitamins and minerals exceeding these final limits would be obliged to reformulate and consequently also to relabel their products for a second time.

It is unlikely that multiple reformulation and relabelling will be necessary for many food supplements currently on the market. However, companies that market higher-dose products have more complex issues to resolve, particularly if they are using vitamins and mineral sources not on the current EU list. Some of these companies might consider waiting as long as possible for the adoption of EU maximum limits before introducing changes to their product formulas and labels.

Launching New Products
Companies seeking to launch new products are currently faced with an intermediate transition period. This means they need to negotiate established EU rules on labelling and vitamin/mineral substances as well as divergent national rules on other product ingredients and health claims . In view of the pending EU decision on maximum limits, companies should be aware that they might be faced with reformulation at some stage.

One advantage of the EU Directive is that it finally opens up the possibility for the launch of pan-EU vitamin/mineral formulas, because common national restrictions on the use of vitamins A and D and many minerals will have been removed.

What's Next: Food Supplements
Within the next seven years, the SCF will be evaluating those new vitamin/mineral dossier submissions that have been provided by July 2005. This should extend the list of approved vitamin and mineral substances. Within this period, member states can provide a national exemption for the use of these substances.

The European Commission is still awaiting the final opinion of the SCF on the establishment of maximum limits for vitamins and minerals. The final SCF risk assessment data is expected for publication in 2003. It is, however, still uncertain when and how the European Commission and member states will be making a final decision on the risk management of this data. The Directive mentions that maximum limits should be set by taking into account SCF-recommended upper safe levels and intakes of vitamins and minerals from other dietary sources. Intakes of vitamins and minerals for the population (i.e. RDAs) may also be taken into account.

Further issues to be clarified in the EU Directive are related to the development of purity criteria, nutrient overages and the revisions of EU labelling of RDAs for vitamins and minerals.

Once all issues related to vitamins and minerals are resolved, the European Commission will then look into the development of specific food supplement rules for other ingredients, such as amino acids and herbs. As a first step, the Commission will be drafting a positive list of other ingredient categories and substances by 2007.

What's Next: Fortified Foods
The European Commission plans to issue a revised version of its draft proposal for an EU Directive on the addition of nutrients to foods by the end of the year. It is likely that this proposal will include a positive list of all permitted nutrients. The Commission has not yet decided whether to introduce specific restrictions on the addition of nutrients to certain food categories. Maximum limits will also be subject to further discussions.

What's Next: Health Claims
In June 2002, the Commission issued draft regulations on health claims. The proposal currently covers nutrition claims, functional claims and health claims. Health claims are further divided into two categories. One is enhanced function claims, which refer to "a specific beneficial effect, beyond that normally obtained from the diet, on physiological functions of the body." The second is reduction of disease risk factor claims, which refer to a food or food constituent that "significantly reduces a major risk factor in the development of a human disease."

While established nutrition and functional claims could be used without special authorisation, the current draft sets out the requirement for a premarketing approval of health claims with the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).

The text was subject to public consultation in July and will now go into interservice consultation within the European Commission, which may finalise its draft by the end of the year, meaning that first discussions in the Parliament could take place some time in 2003.

Opportunity Or Threat?
From a national marketing perspective, the effect of the new rules will depend on the existing regulatory environment within each EU country. While there may be some restrictions for the more liberal markets such as the UK and the Netherlands markets, harmonised legislation on vitamins and minerals should create an opportunity for a wider range of products to be sold in more restrictive markets such as France, Germany and Spain.

For example, the EU Directive on Food Supplements will remove restrictions on the use of food supplement ingredients such as vitamins A and D and minerals such as chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum and selenium that exist in many countries. By setting standards for the use of these ingredients, the Directive is removing daunting barriers to trade, making it possible to create pan-EU formulas and label formats.

Internationally, it is hoped that new EU rules will bring increased opportunities for the pan-EU marketing of products. Three key developments for this to happen will now be:

  • For food supplements, the development of acceptable EU maximum limits for vitamins and minerals.

  • For fortified/functional foods, limited restrictions on the types of foods and ingredients that may be used for food fortification in the draft EU Directive on the addition of nutrients to foods.

  • For food supplements and functional foods, acceptance of disease risk-reduction claims by new EU health claims rules.

Harmonised rules for all nutritional products may be a long way off, but now is the time for companies to begin positioning themselves to take advantage of the new EU rules in light of these changes.

The new EAS report, "Marketing Food Supplements, Fortified & Functional Foods in Europe—Legislation and Practice 2002," provides more details on these recent EU developments and the national rules of 20 European countries. For more information on the 140-page report, priced 495 euros (US$495), and EAS services, visit www.eas.be or contact:

Rue de l'Association 50, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +322 218 1470, Fax: +322 219 7342
E-mail: [email protected]

The Chasm Ahead: How National Regulations Diverge

  • Ingredients And Levels: In relation to maximum limits for vitamins and minerals, some countries have developed policies based on nutritional requirements (the RDA or a multiple of the RDA), while others apply the principle of safety (upper safe limits). These national policies will continue to apply until maximum limits are agreed on and included in the EU Directive. The use of amino acids, fatty acids and other nutrients in food supplements and conventional foods is generally permitted in some countries but restricted to dietetic foods in others. As regards herbal products, these can be classified as food supplements, herbal remedies or medicines, depending on their traditional use and safety.

  • Health Claims: Eight European countries have recently developed national guidelines on health claims: Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Most countries have now recognised the use of nutrient function claims and claims related to the maintenance and promotion of good health (so-called "enhanced function claims"). The relatively new concept of disease risk-reduction claims (e.g., "may help lower cholesterol levels") has also started to appear in the national guidelines of Belgium and the UK, in discussions within the Council of Europe, and in the Codex Alimentarius draft guidelines.

  • Notification/Registration Procedures: Some national authorities, such as in Austria and Switzerland, require products to be registered or notified before marketing, while others, such as in the UK and the Netherlands, permit them to be sold freely without prior authorisation as long as the products conform to the country's rules.

  • Distribution Practices: Despite increasing product sales through supermarkets, drug stores and health food stores, some countries retain their restrictions on distribution. The most extreme example is Greece, where the sale of all food supplements is restricted to pharmacies.

Proposed Joint Supplement Laws Split Tasman Neighbours

New Zealand

Members of the Australian and New Zealand dietary supplements industry are wringing their hands at the prospect of a trans-Tasman regulatory agency. In Australia, health supplements are regulated as medicines, but in New Zealand they are controlled under looser food legislation. New Zealand health officials have proposed a trans-Tasman agency to control therapeutic products.

The split emerged after New Zealand retailers held a one-day protest in Wellington which saw them drape black curtains over supplements they believe would be unavailable under a trans-Tasman arrangement. The protest was organised by Citizens for Health Choice, which, along with the National Nutritional Foods Association, argue that Australia's rules would regulate some products off New Zealand shelves and put half the country's dietary supplement suppliers out of business.

But others support a trans-Tasman agency, claiming joint control would result in more equal trade opportunities, greater consistency in label information and safer products for consumers. Major suppliers such as Blackmores and Nutra-Life dispute claims it would put suppliers out of business.

New Zealand Health Minister Annette King is calling for a sensible debate over the issue. "Some individuals and organisations are making wild claims about the proposed Trans-Tasman Therapeutic Goods Agency," she said, adding that the government has not decided whether to proceed with a joint agency. King said regardless of whether a joint agency is established, regulatory change is required to ensure the validity of health claims.

She said many supplements manufacturers make unsubstantiated claims, and suppliers that produce quality products would not have a problem with stricter requirements.