Despite Mario Draghi’s pledge to save the single currency and more rebalancing in the periphery, the European economy still has some way to go for a clean bill of health. However judging by the talk of growth from the show floor last week, the prognosis is good for Europe’s food industry.
Health Ingredients Europe 2012 welcomed guests and exhibitors from around the world to Frankfurt, Germany for three days of health ingredient innovations. Featuring over 500 exhibitors, the show provided great variety without ever becoming repetitive. Every corner had plenty of activity, including two seminar theatres and a New Products Zone showcasing all finalists from this years NUW 2012 Excellence Awards. Most stands at the show were of a relatively modest size with the exception of DSM, GNT, Beneo & Nexira, but even these were smaller in scale to those seen at last years Food Ingredients Europe. However the quality of the exhibits and exhibitors were among the best.
Botanicals and plant extracts
As predicted, natural ingredients dominated the show. One category in particular, botanicals and plant extracts, promises huge potential for food producers. Sales specialist Vera Du of Layn Natural Ingredients, one of many Chinese companies at the show, spoke to us about the Luo Han Guo (Monk Fruit). For centuries Luo Han Guo has traditionally been brewed as a sweet ‘cooling tea’ and used as a remedy for sore throats. Now a 12 year study has revealed the Luo Han Guo’s true properties resulting in Gu-Luo, a natural zero calorie sweetener extract that when concentrated to 50% mogroside-v is approximately 250 times sweeter than sugar.
We also spoke to Jared Zhang, Export Manager, Seian food & Technology who sees huge growth potential for tea within Europe. Where tea has been an integral part of Chinese culture for centuries, the product category has only recently begun to grow in popularity in Europe. A recent report by Rabobank proposes that the USD 5 billion alliance of Tingyi and PepsiCo will fuel competition in the Chinese beverage market where herbal drinks have been the fastest growing (35+ percent) over the past 5 years. Beverage companies who can succeed in bringing ready-to-drink tea to the Europe by capturing the growing demand for healthier drinks, have the potential to gain a share in this growing global market.
Naturex, a specialist in natural ingredients who operate globally, were exploring the potential for tea extracts with their Lift energy drink concept. We tried Lift with Sales Manager, Ludovic Galloti and were very impressed with the taste. Antoine Dauby, Group Marketing Director, spoke to us about the growing trend in demand for functional products with natural ingredients. Through the concept of natural energy, not only can a beverage producer target the current energy drinks market, but also re-engage consumers who were previously put off by artificial ingredients. This could include older consumers who unlike their younger counterparts could genuinely benefit from a boost of energy.
It was a busy show for Naturex with a stand that featured a fully functional bakery. Here chefs baked indulgent and delicious petit fours, which included natural ingredients such as vegetable powders. The company was very keen to communicate the importance of taste which until now had been somewhat lacking in healthy foods. This was a recurrent theme at this years show as many companies have finally succeeded in producing great tasting products without the ‘interesting‘ textures or after tastes. The stand also displayed Naturex’ Highly Commended NUW 2012 Excellence Award for Sustainability & Environmental Initative
There were some great innovations in protein at the show, with the whole product category seeming to broaden beyond its traditional body-building market. One ingredient we were very keen to take a look at was Hydro 365. From Arla Food Ingredients we met Troels Laursen who explained that Hydro 365 is a hydrolysed whey protein, developed for serious athletes. This new processing technology allows for the ultra fast absorption of Hydro 365’s amino acids. This enables athletes to train harder as recovery time is reduced. This highly stable and transparent protein can be applied in a range of products including clear beverages, which could play a key factor in further developing the female protein market where on the go beverages are preferred to heavier protein shakes. Troels Laursen explains further,
There is a lot of positive noise in the dairy industry regarding the returning consumer perception of dairy as a healthy food source. Natalie Meijers, Communications Manager, DMV shared this view. At the show they were also focusing on performance nutrition with a muscle boosting drink. Containing 50g of protein per 100ml, this great tasting strawberry shake was based upon Excellion Calcium Caseinate for a prolonged release of amino acids to boost muscle mass build up. DMV were also diversifying further with their proteins to produce a fruit flavour weight control drink. Weight control seems to be a growing area in the protein category, where the traditional, and to some people intimidating, buckets of body-builder protein on store shelves are being reconfigured to meet demands in new market segments.
Sports & Active Nutrition
With their first show since the acquisition of Solae (soya), and also Danisco (probiotics & fibres), DuPont were keen to show their new soya protein muscle builder and weight management drinks. The company has recently invested in a market survey looking at attitudes to active lifestyles in adults aged 35-65 in 13 countries. The company is now championing ‘Active Nutrition’, a term which we can really see catching on as it encompasses not only sports, but everyone wishing to maintain an active lifestyle.
A surprise entrant into the sports nutrition category was Nexira. Originally a specialist in acacia gum, their recent acquisition of botanical extracts producer Tournay Biotechnologies has vastly expanded their portfolio. Our good friend US Sales Director, Health Division, Franck Gillet and Communication Assistant, Véronique Asselin explained Vinitrox at a lavish champage reception on the Nexira stand. This nitric oxide enhancer combines apple and grape polyphenols. In two clinical trials Vinitrox has shown to increase physical training time by 10% and delay fatigue onset by 13%. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant.
On the subject of antioxidants, I had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Lambrecht of Kaneka on Ubiquinol, the active form of coQ10. Like health ingredients such as Omega-3, Ubiquional offers a diverse array of health benefits. Ubiquinol can be viewed as a fountain of youth as not only is it a powerful antioxidant in its own right, but it is also a strong re-activator of other antioxidants. As Ubiquinol improves heart and physical performance, Kaneka is exploring more into how it can be applied in sports nutrition. In training for the London 2012 Olympics, the Japanese Olympic team used Ubiquinol supplements to aid recovery and improved from a top 10 to a medal position. Peter explains in more detail,
Green light for sodium reduction
We are predicting the next major challenge for the food industry is sodium reduction, and with new food labelling standards set to be introduced, no-one wants the red light. We met with Claire Fraux of Armor Proteines who spoke to us about Lactosalt, a salt alternative extracted from milk, not potassium chloride. It has a wide variety of applications across food and has even been introduced in a salt cellar in France. We sampled the product in a salmon pâté, and whilst we’re not the biggest salmon pâté fans, we found it to be well seasoned. Lactosalt also bucks the stigma of nutrition for the elderly therefore broadening its market. Here is Claire explaining further,
The general feel from the show was one of a vibrant and dynamic industry innovating to maintain the benefits of natural ingredients both to overcome existing health issues, and to develop new emerging markets beyond the traditions.
The only negative from the show was the issue of Wi-Fi. As if charging the extortionate fee €40 per day wasn’t bad enough, Messe Frankfurt also required visitors to use a laptop or desktop computer to pay for the privilege. In a world of webmail, social media and over 100 million iPad users, this just wasn’t good enough. That said, we were fascinated to learn how few European exhibitors actually use social media compared to the UK and the US.
But Wi-Fi rants aside, Health Ingredients Europe 2012 has been one of the best shows we have attended this year, and it is to the credit of all the great people who exhibited and attended. Stay in touch via our social media on the top right of the site, and we’ll see you at the next show!