Enzyme products evolve as market fills with new applications and green ideas

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30 Aug 2017 --- Today, to follow up the first part of its special report, NutritionInsight looks at innovations in the enzymes space and sees what companies are doing to deal with the tricky issue of sustainability.

Health and wellness space drives innovation
General interest in the area of health and wellness is inspiring new ideas from a number of companies, Fokke van den Berg, DSM’s Director of Strategy, Marketing and Application, Enzyme Solutions, tells NutritionInsight. “As the trend toward healthier eating grows, so does consumer awareness for different aspects of health, like digestion and the potential benefits of a lactose-free or gluten-free diet,” Van den Berg says.

DSM surveyed 1,000 gluten-free consumers this year in the US and the UK, and was intrigued to learn that most consumers of gluten-free bread say they also still eat regular bread, instead of excluding gluten completely from their diets. “This means that in addition to celiac and gluten-intolerant consumers, there is a larger group of people who are interested in simply reducing the overall amount of gluten they consume,” Van den Berg notes.

For lactose-free dairy, DSM has found that consumers buying lactose-free are doing so because of the perceived health benefits and that consumer preference is driven by the variety and quality of lactose-free products available.

In Finland, a recent DSM survey revealed that 46 percent of lactose-free dairy consumers have been buying lactose-free for more than five years, and 81 percent for more than one year. According to Van den Berg, this is due to the wide variety of products available on the market, enabling consumers to swap almost any dairy-based product for one that is lactose-free, such as milk and yogurt, but also pizza, pasta, cakes and pastries.

“Again, it’s important that these products look and taste very close to the regular versions, which is where we have directed our innovation in enzymes as well as cultures,” Van den Berg says.

Sugar reduction is also a very important trend in health and wellness. “DSM conducted a survey this year with consumers that shows that most consumers are doing something to reduce sugar in their diet,” Van den Berg adds. “More than 60 percent of consumers of fresh dairy products are cutting down the amount of sugar they eat in dairy products, whether by reducing portion size, switching to low-sugar or reduced-sugar versions, or switching to naturally-sweetened varieties.”

“Fresh dairy producers are very successfully reducing sugar in their flavored dairy products by using lactase to break down the lactose in milk into glucose and galactose, releasing the milk’s natural sweetness and enabling sugar reduction, which is driving sales for our Maxilact.”

Finally, Van den Berg points out that acrylamide reduction is becoming a real focus in the industry – particularly in Europe where regulation comes into force at the end of the year that requires manufacturers to take mitigative measures against acrylamide. “As a result, snack producers around the world are evaluating their ingredients and production processes to reduce acrylamide in their foods,” he observes. “One such way to do that is to use asparaginase, an enzyme which prevents acrylamide from forming.”

Traceability and sustainability
In a world where people are increasingly conscious of environmental issues, the enzymes industry is making its voice heard on the issue of sustainability.

“Fermentation efficiency in the production of enzymes has increased,” notes Ralf Neumann, Customer Solutions Director Baking Enzymes at AB Enzymes, of the company’s efforts to reduce waste.

“Novozymes is a world leader in creating solutions to support a sustainable future,” notes Abigail Dillon, EMEA Product & Marketing Coordinator at Univar Food Ingredients. The company’s sustainability goals are made clear by a very detailed section on its website: “In Novozymes we use Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to assess the environmental impacts of our solutions covering the entire life cycle from cradle to grave – from raw material extraction, through production, use, and transport, to final disposal or recycling.”

“By using LCAs we can help build and validate sustainability claims for our customers as well,” the website continues, noting that the environmental assessment “from cradle to grave” includes raw material production, enzyme production, enzyme use and waste water treatment.

“We should not forget that sustainability has become a focus point for many food brands, something that enzymes can support very well by making production processes much more efficient and by preventing waste,” says Van den Berg of the industry’s efforts. “For DSM, sustainability is a core company value and something that drives our innovation.”

By Paul Creasy

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