The quest for functional food ingredients and health benefits
Worldwide, more and more consumers are concerned about the quality and health benefits associated with the products they consume. An increasing number of consumers is even relying on
food and dietary supplements to meet their overall health needs. The interest in food products with potential health effect -beyond basic nutritional benefits- has been on the rise for some years now, and was recently extremely boosted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health-conscious consumers are turning to functional foods for different reasons, going from weight, stress or energy management, to specific health issues, such as immune, heart or digestive health. Some food brands have been quick to shift their
marketing focus from the taste and nutritional value of their products to an emphasis on positive after-effects they bring to consumers. This offers tremendous opportunities for product positioning and differentiation.
When it comes to adding new functional benefits to foods or beverages, scientifically based ingredients are becoming increasingly important. However, substantial scientific evidence is lacking for many ingredients and health benefits. A thorough understanding of efforts in this area can shed light on opportunities that can be seized.
Creax collaborated with several companies that were looking for opportunities in this trending market space. Some of our clients contacted us to explore ingredients with specific health benefits, such as immune support, digestive health or mental wellbeing, whereas others were looking to learn more about potential health benefits of some of the products in their portfolio. Some clients even wanted to obtain a complete understanding of
emerging ingredients and health benefits in broad product categories such as prebiotics.
For all of these requests, Creax performed text-mining analyses on relevant document pools, including patents, scientific literature and clinical trials. Using our in-house developed AI software, and our categorization and annotation tools, we provided our clients with clear analyses and structured databases linking functional ingredients to their source, benefits in specific health domains, and applications within the food & beverage space. These reports and databases not only provided insights in the level of scientific understanding, clinical evidence and IP activity, but also provided a nice overview of companies and institutions working on certain companies. The latter was certainly of interest to those companies that contacted us for identifying potential partners and/or acquisition targets.
While a good understanding of the efficacy of these ingredients helps to
optimize R&D and regulatory approval process costs, insights on the pricing, availability (supply chain, ethical sourcing, clean label…), regulatory status and sustainability are equally important. These insights are typically provided for a shortlist of ingredients, chosen by the client and/or suggested by the Creax team.
With this combined approach, Creax identified multiple functional ingredients or health benefits that helped our clients fill their innovation pipeline, while at the same time saving them internal resources and time.
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The agro-food sector is impacted by major societal trends.The playing field has also changed radically. Reason enough to innovate. This article focuses on how the sector is responding to thi fast chaing world.