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Bridging the gap between food and health.

There's no doubt about it, the global population is getting older, particularly in developed counties. Around the world, we're becoming better informed and increasingly conscious of our health and well-being. The baby boomers and, in general, people over the age of 40 are more willing than ever to spend their "silver dollars" on staying healthy, and both recreational sport and mass participation events are witnessing a dramatic rise in popularity. As readers of this publication are well aware, food supplements and nutraceuticals have become well-established weapons in the arsenal of health management and disease prevention. Indeed, during the last few years, scientific research targeted at demonstrating the health benefits of supplements has been getting more and more attention--from the life science industry, academia and the general public--and, in many cases, evidence-based R&D and clinical trials have unequivocally proven that natural plant-derived products are safe and effective health-promoting medicaments.

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Most supplements and finished products are currently available in the form of capsules and pills, the most well known and popular solid dosage forms. The shelves in drug stores and health food stores are loaded with a vast selection of supplements and plant extracts. However, healthy active people are, in general, less likely to want to swallow capsules on a regular basis, preferring to consume such products in a more enjoyable, convenient and less "medical" format such as a snack bar, ready-to-drink beverage or savoury snack. As such, the modern food industry is starting to realize that "health foods" are playing a significant and important role in the health and diet regimes of the twenty first century consumer. Thus, in the last few years, unhealthy food ingredients such as trans fats, high concentrations of sugar and salt have been gradually reduced, removed and replaced in everyday foods. Large multinational food companies are coming to the realization that, in the future, they will have to offer more than just taste--health will also become a key purchase indicator.

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Many an executive has strutted around the boardroom stating that the "next big thing in the food industry is health." So, as a result, more and more products proffering and claiming health benefits have been launched into the market and now grace our supermarket shelves. "Functional" has become a food sector buzzword and a Holy Grail for the major players in the F&B industry. Yet, there's a problem. The very same food companies seem to be unable to translate this strategic vision into manageable and feasible action plans; corporate development plans are handicapped by the company's existing priorities of providing cost-competitive products to the average consumer. And, let's face it: sophisticated health-conscious consumers are suspicious about the health messages being communicated by traditional food companies. They're not convinced that the claimed health benefits are supported by credible science and clinical research. Food companies may well be investing in massive advertising campaigns and promoting their products to a broad population, but they're having major difficulties communicating the health-promoting benefits of these products to the end-user, the consumer. Finished products--whatever the dosage form--that are supported by clinical research are significantly more expensive to develop and manufacture. It is therefore no wonder that so-called "functional" products are taking longer than expected (and hoped) to saturate the market.

In my opinion, there is a great need for more health-promoting foods and drinks. The market potential of such products--backed by clinical research--is huge; but, currently, they are not conveniently available to the health-conscious buyer. Consumers are looking for credible products that work, offered in supermarket chains that are enjoyable and tasty. As previously mentioned, snack bars or drinks/smoothies containing proven health-promoting ingredients that can be consumed at work and/or on the go are attractive presentations. I truly believe that the day of the nutraceutical will come and functional foods will flourish. But, I predict that the breakthrough products will be developed and brought to market by small entrepreneurial companies rather than the traditional, large and often-conservative food companies.

This market segment of ours will evolve, I expect, in the same way that the biotech industry developed. In the early 1980s, Big Pharma companies showed no interest in biotechnology. Instead, entrepreneurs and scientists set up new companies and attracted investors who saw the commercial potential of the technology. Then, gradually, the pharmaceutical industry jumped off the fence and got involved, investing in venture funds that subsequently invested in biotech ... just to keep a foot in the door. Eventually, Big Pharma licensed innovative products from small biotech companies; now, they're acquiring such companies and paying premium prices. Mark my words; a similar future lies ahead for the functional food and nutraceutical industry.

Herbamed was established in 1993 to develop, manufacture and market pioneering, patented technologies serving the natural health and food additive markets. The founder's vision--a known scientist and entrepreneur in Israel--is that a scientific approach and evidence-based clinical benefits should be the basis for nutraceuticals. Offering consumers and manufacturers of food additives and natural nutraceuticals the choice of capsule, liquid or powder forms, Herbamed's novel drug delivery technology, Emulsome, enhances the bioavailability of hydrophobic compounds and food supplements. Their Ultrasome-CoQ10 product, based on Emulsome, is absorbed effectively into the body, which makes it an extremely beneficial food additive and natural nutraceutical. Herbamed is developing new innovative products that are applicable as functional foods or beverages.

For more information

Haim Aviv, PhD

Founder

Herbamed Ltd

Tel. +972 8 940 9648

avivh@herbamed.co.il

www.herbamed.co.il
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Publication:Nutraceutical Business & Technology
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:913
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