DSM's tensVida wins hearts of the industry

Garnet Pidgen, senior vice president of functional foods at DSMDSM has two industry Oscars for its corporate mantle after winning both the NutrAward at SupplyExpo in March and first place in innovation at Healthy Ingredients Europe in January for tensVida (formerly TensGuard). The product's enzyme technology is made from bioactive lactotripeptides to help manage blood pressure.

DSM not only launched this new ingredient, but also a new branded-ingredient campaign for all its life-science products. After years of research the company recognised that consumers trust branded ingredients over generic for specific health conditions. Functional Ingredients spoke with Garnet Pigden, senior vice president for functional foods at DSM, to get his take on TensVida's early success.

Q: TensVida has now won two highly regarded awards at Healthy Ingredients Europe and SupplyExpo. What precipitated your development of this product?

GP: At DSM, we recognised that there are a number of ingredients that target heart health and cholesterol reduction, namely plant sterols and soy protein. But there were very few products that reduced blood pressure. TensVida is a way to address an unmet and growing need in heart health, particularly as blood-pressure management becomes an increasing issue with ageing populations and global obesity.

Scientifically, our company has deep insights into enzyme technology and how these enzymes impact protein strains, particularly in our beverage, bakery and dairy applications. That knowledge helped us better understand that bio-active peptides could reduce blood pressure in adults. The beauty of tensVida is that in no way does it take blood pressure levels below a normal state, which means that an entire family can use the product without risk. It is well documented that a two-to-five-point reduction in blood pressure can result in a 17 per cent decrease in hypertension, and a 14 per cent decline in stroke risk.

Q: So often products are introduced in this industry with limited marketing research behind them and as a result companies struggle with industry visibility and consumer awareness. What did you learn about consumers' need for tensVida before product development and launch?

GP: My background has been primarily in consumer packaged goods marketing. Other than a brief stint in leading a dot.com, which turned in to a dot.bomb, I have spent most of my career understanding what consumers want from healthier food products such as Frito Lay's SunChips and ConAgra's Healthy Choice. When I moved into the B2B world with Dupont's Solae soy-protein brand, I brought a number of disciplines from the B2C world. These helped the company to better understand consumers and create stronger value propositions. This same approach is being used at DSM and we found that in the UK and the US, consumers found that the messaging behind tensVida for promoting healthy blood pressure to be very appealing. In fact, the quantitative purchase-intent scores were equal to Europe's leading probiotic yoghurt brand. This was strong evidence that we were headed in the right direction. This consumer data-driven discipline is something that we are using for all of DSM's ingredient brands. We have surveyed more than 25,000 consumers across 17 countries and now know which ingredients, applications and health benefits have the greatest appeal.

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