Food fortification: Improving ingredients with nutritional merit

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30 Oct 2017 --- Food fortification is an area of the nutrition space that is being explored by many different companies. As consumers increasingly look to make dietary changes to benefit their health, the idea of food fortification is helping companies to develop foods that are fit for a wide variety of lifestyles. NutritionInsight looks at the latest developments in food fortification.

Fortifying to solve global issues
Food fortification has been proposed as a solution to global problems. In Pakistan, for example, it has previously been suggested as a way to support local mills and food factories and therefore has a substantial impact on the wellbeing of close to 100 million people. The UK-based Food Fortification Program has awarded Bühler a multi-million contract to supply more than 1,000 micro feeders in 2017 and 2018.

Pakistan has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world: more than 40 percent of children are affected by stunting, and 30 percent are underweight. The fortification of staple foods is an effective way of increasing nutritional intake of a broad base of the population, for example through the addition of vitamins and minerals to wheat flour during the wheat milling process.

Fortification’s benefits also extent to sustainability. “Consumers are integrating ‘green’ attitudes and behaviors into all areas of their lives, from the foods they eat, to the personal care product they use, to the cars they drive,” says Ho-Ling Chack from the DSM Nutritional Products Food & Beverage marketing team in the US. “Consumers are interested in aligning their personal values with manufacturers/brands they buy, raising the bar for companies to clearly define and articulate their values.”

Chack says DSM is at the forefront in sustainability and has identified key focus areas where its core business competencies closely intersect with identified global societal trends that affect people, economies and markets.

Useful ingredients fortify the market
Consumers today want to eat healthy as it helps them feeling in control of their lives or proactively managing their health conditions, and thus, food fortification becomes a critical factor in their purchasing decisions, according to Chack.

“With that said, however, consumers are struggling to understand which foods or nutrients are associated with specific health benefits,” Chack says. “For example, 49 percent of consumers couldn’t name a food/a nutrient that promotes cardiovascular health benefit (source: 2017 IFIC Food & Health Survey). This disconnect may be fueled by the abundance of conflicting nutrition information available in the marketplace today. Thus, whoever (manufacturers/brands) can break through the clutter and establish itself as the preferred food/nutrient for a specific health benefit will be handsomely rewarded.”

Dr. Paul Lohmann produces more than 40 different magnesium salts, from bisglycinates and different citrates, to carbonate and oxides. These mineral salts differ in regards to solubility, mineral content and physical appearance. Magnesium is an element of particular interest to the sports nutrition sector as there are some highly desirable health claims associated with it, and consumers quickly notice the benefits of taking magnesium to reduce muscle pains after and during sports.

The highly soluble magnesium salts are quickly available to the body, Dr. Paul Lohmann Sales Director Klaus Brockhausen says, adding that, for example, these magnesium bisglycinates can benefit the sports nutrition sector. For sport beverages, minerals like magnesium carbonate can be used as a buffering agent and provide a magnesium fortification at the same time.

“Depending on the application you can also add either a good soluble magnesium salt or you can work with a non-soluble magnesium salt like magnesium oxide,” Brockhausen says.

Trends take industry away from traditional delivery systems
Claire Baker, Cambridge Commodities’ Head of Product Development, certainly sees a huge shift in the nutrition market toward demand for functional foods: healthy snacks, healthy children’s snacks and ways in which people can get their added vitamins and minerals without taking a capsule or a tablet.

“At the moment we’re looking at things like fortified jelly pots, carbonated drinks with added nutritional benefits, ready-to-drink juices and oral sprays. We’ve got active projects going on in all of those areas while still developing traditional formats such as tablets and capsules,” Baker says.

There are many trends driving innovation, according to Chack. He cites omega 3 in value-added milk like Horizon and Fairlife; plant-based proteins in beverages or bars like Bolthouse and Evolve; and probiotics and prebiotics in beverages like Suja and Tropicana.

Future of fortification
“Dr. Paul Lohmann is a middle-sized German company, but we are active globally. We have a growing business in Europe – in Western Europe, we are seeing a growing interest in iron and zinc,” Brockhausen says.

“In third world countries, these deficiencies are much more obvious, but it is one area that we want to tap into for Western Europe. We also work with international organizations such as UNICEF and GAIN. These organizations will also try to work on these deficiencies, and we have projects that support this, to find out which source is bioavailable, where costs are not too high, so it’s about finding the right options for these application areas,” Brockhausen adds.

Additionally, Brockhausen notes that the company is trying to gain more knowledge on how food fortification is accomplished in different regions of the world.

Dr. Paul Lohmann’s further plans include new product groups. “The focus will be on high-value mineral products, with a focus on pharmaceutical applications,” Brockhausen concludes.

“In my opinion, the future is bright,” says Chack of DSM. “Consumers are more engaged than ever before; companies are getting nimbler; scientific advances are accelerating; and regulatory bodies are encouraging food choices around nutrient density. I believe the importance of nutrient density in food will continue to be a critical factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions going forward.”

All in all, the impression is that food fortification will continue to be explored by big companies as the potential solutions to crucial nutritional issues become ever more varied and complex.

By Paul Creasy

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