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www.chemicalsknowledgehub.com


Food Additives/Nutraceuticals xxx


Traditional immune-related ingredients such as vitamin C, D or zinc are well-established and known to consumers. They hold a big market share, which can be challenging for new product development. Another challenge may be that while some products are permitted to carry immunity health claims at low doses of a specific ingredient, larger doses are actually needed to show an effect.


There is still significant uncertainty. Health supplements cannot always compensate or cure lifestyle-associated deficiencies; it is simply not possible to ignore the fundamental requirements of a balanced diet, exercise and sleep. The measures taken to cope with the pandemic in many countries tend to add to the stress that has a negative effect on the immune system. The closure of sports facilities, gyms and restaurants, combined with worries about jobs and loved ones, cannot be counteracted by a plant extract. At the same time, products that have been forced to market too quickly create exaggerated — and unsubstantiated — expectations that further unsettle consumers. Concepts and products that address the long-term needs of an ageing, increasingly health-conscious population, by contrast, will still be in demand after the crisis.


For manufacturers, the supply chain is becoming even more important than before. Wherever a market delivers profits, counterfeiters are not far behind, and this is especially true for tea and tea extracts. Taiyo has therefore developed an Adulteration Free campaign that ensures that our green tea extracts are 100% natural and free from adulteration.


What’s the potential for innovation in the immune health segment?


Consumers are better informed than ever about the inter-relationships in the human body. For example, the beneficial effect of a normal body weight is widely recognized, and also controlled and well-balanced blood glucose levels are increasingly seen to play a role. Conversely, diseases such as diabetes and obesity are risk factors for severe progress of COVID-19. And consumers are also aware of how important digestive health is, as a recent analysis by market researchers from Health Focus International revealed: 75% of participants said the positive effect of a healthy intestine includes “general physical health”, with two out of three linking it to a “functioning immune system”.


There are thus promising opportunities for the industry in this area. Take digestive health as an example: Today, science knows much


more about how the microbiome can influence both gut health and the immune system, as well as overall wellbeing. This is why one focus of BENEO’s R&D is on the human gut microbiome, and how it can be positively influenced.


While science does not yet know everything about immunity, it’s accepted that it plays a role throughout the entire body. Therefore, it seems logical that support should come from nutrients that are active in the whole body too. The pandemic has also shown that consumers want to learn more about immune health and how best to support it. Brands can use this engagement to shape their products and communication in favour of science-backed solutions. They can create premium dietary supplements containing value- added speciality ingredients. Nutrients such as Kaneka Ubiquinol that are backed by scientific research will appeal to health-conscious shoppers looking for additional immunity benefits. In addition, consumers are eager for products that combine a number of benefits in one package. Immune support definitely relies on more than one nutrient. The versatility of ubiquinol means it can be combined with numerous other ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals or natural extracts – eg a combination of ubiquinol with vitamin C seems to work well. Many people with COVID-19 have problems with their lungs. If lungs are ‘attacked’ by harmful environmental influences or pathogens, the body’s own antioxidants – vitamin C and ubiquinol – are the first to be impacted. So the synergy between both nutrients could lead to better lung protection.


The immune health segment offers great potential, particularly in the area of omega-3 products. Before the pandemic, omega-3 was in demand as an ingredient with a recognized effect on the immune system, especially in infant formulas; now, there is growing demand for similarly enriched functional foods for adults. On the one hand, omega-3 fatty acids activate immune cells such as neutrophil granulocytes, macrophages and killer cells. On the other hand, mediator molecules such as prostaglandins are also triggered, subsequently bringing the immune system into a state of greater readiness.


For consumers who do not want to take tablets or capsules to strengthen their immune system, hybrid beverages and functional


foods offer a good alternative; and, from a manufacturer’s point of view, they offer great potential for innovation. Even soft drinks, bars or snacks that are perceived to have a rather “unhealthy image” gain added nutritional value when augmented with healthy ingredients. There is considerable work to be done, though; whereas natural and synthetic vitamin are readily available, polyphenols cannot easily be synthesized. Owing to the immense importance of the gut for the immune system, microbiome-supporting ingredients and products are also gaining increasing significance. Taiyo, together with manufacturers in the relevant market segments, is developing innovative concepts with natural polyphenols and dietary fibre to strengthen the gut.


Issue 2 • March/April 2021


47


(Photo © Taiyo International)


(Photo © Nutriswiss AG)


(Photo © Kaneka Corporation)


(Photo © BENEO)


(Photo © Taiyo International)


(Photo © Nutriswiss AG)


(Photo © Kaneka Corporation)


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