Botanicals breakthrough: Spicing up natural ingredients for clean label claims

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01 Aug 2017 --- One food trend that is undeniably shaping 2017 is botanicals – how substances obtained from plants are giving a major boost to new products across multiple platforms. Eagle-eyed consumers are scanning labels more than ever, scrutinizing the small print for signs of sugar or a host of other ingredients with negative connotations. The clean label trend is driving so many food and drink segments and it’s the natural and healthy credentials of botanicals that are increasingly making them popular and a go-to choice for innovators, who are looking to make bold health and well-being claims.

In fact, according to data from Innova Market Insights, there was a 41 percent increase in global soft drinks category launches with a “botanical” claims in 2016, compared with the same period the previous year. 

It is clear that botanicals are receiving their fair share of attention from supplement producers and food and drink manufacturers, as well as from the scientific community. However, it’s the consumer who is becoming much more aware of the role that botanicals can play in health and well-being and so they want to see that message on the label. 

Spices, flowers, plants, seeds, herbs or some other plant-based ingredients are being used on so many new product developmentsClick to Enlarge to add flavor, color, texture, taste – alongside the all-important botanical claim. 

And as consumers around the world make healthier choices, more regulation is geared towards industry getting rid of synthetic substances or flavorings whose presence may be technically useful, but no longer looks good on the label (if it ever did).

Botanical flavorings can offer effective solutions capable of satisfying both consumers’ safety concerns and the industry’s technical requests – and they are particularly good in terms of flavoring. 

In specific sub-categories like adult premium soft drinks, smoothies and low alcohol beverages, innovating with botanicals is very strong. 

At the GNT Group, innovators are turning to the functional food ingredient and so-called “super spice” turmeric to develop a water processed turmeric concentrate that is suitable for certain types of beverages. 

Turmeric and its main active ingredient curcumin features in Innova Market Insights top ten “Better for you beverage ingredients,” because of its health attributes as well as color and flavor. 

The GNT Group is also making waves with another botanical ingredient, spirulina – with its vibrant hue, the blue-green algae is very high in protein, while containing a large variety of vitamins and minerals. Spirulina is quite unique as a plant-based protein, Click to Enlargecontaining all eight essential amino acids. It was only last year that spirulina was approved as a food color in the US. 

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Head of Marketing at GNT, Guido de Jager explains how the spirulina demand has been anticipated for quite some time and how the company has the only working spirulina factory in Europe. 

“We expect the demand will continue to grow and we are extending our production capabilities for the future,” he says. “GNT has developed spirulina as a food coloring and we produce it ourselves. There are no added chemicals and it’s completely natural, so you can label it as a food instead of as an additive,” says de Jager.

“There are still some challenges, especially in blue beverages, but we are working on a solution for that and we are certain at some point in the future we will find it,” he states.

You can read the second part of this report on FoodIngredientsFirst tomorrow. 

By Gaynor Selby

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